A single "of" for a noun and two gerunds?



For example:

"Some websites allow categorization, editing, and listening of playlists online." (Wikipedia)

As I know, a gerund can't be followed by the preposition "of". Is this sentence wrong, or is the preposition present here because the word "categorization" is kind of defining (and it needs the preposition "of" after it)?

I've also heard that gerunds can become nouns, if you write them with the definite article, and in this case the preposition "of" is necessary. Is it true? If so, is it the rule I'm looking for?


Thank you for the answers. You all say that it is possible to use the preposition "of" with gerunds, though I've found the opposite information.

http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/59703-Prepositions-after-Gerunds https://www.englishforums.com/English/PrepositionAfterAGerund/bzwdhh/post.htm

Are there any rules for using "of" with gerunds? Is the information given by the links incorrect? If so, is it possible to use "of" with all gerunds followed by direct objects? In this case, is there any sense to operate with the term "verbal noun"? If yes, what would be the difference in using a gerund or a verbal noun?

Victoria Gorshkova

Posted 2014-12-28T23:16:16.410

Reputation: 143

2Your assertion that a gerund can't be followed by the preposition "of" seems false to me. I believe the sentence "Some websites allow editing of playlists online." is perfectly grammatical. – Dawood ibn Kareem – 2014-12-29T03:09:25.657

I've found several answers in the Internet on this question. I'm not sure if it's ok to use links here. They say the gerund cannot be followed by the preposition "of", it has a double character - nominal and verbal. Also, the gerund of a transitive verb takes a direct object. I believe the verb "edit" doesn't take any preposition after it (like "listen to"), so it seems to me that it should take a direct object with no preposition. – Victoria Gorshkova – 2014-12-29T09:49:16.650

But, as I've mentioned, gerunds are often confused with verbal nouns: those have only the nominal character and are used with the definite article. They also require the preposition "of" after them, as they take not direct, but prepositional objects after them. So is "editing" a gerund or a noun in this case? If it is a verbal noun, why is it used with no article? – Victoria Gorshkova – 2014-12-29T09:49:39.910

2Actually, you could say “allow editing playlists online” as well as “allow editing of playlists online”. Yes, please post a link. I really don’t think there is any prohibition against following a gerund with “of”. Famous examples: “The Taming of the Shrew”, “tolling of the bell”, “changing of the guard”, “the Raising of Lazarus”, “howling of the wind”, and many more. – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-29T10:08:39.777

For example http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/59703-Prepositions-after-Gerunds https://www.englishforums.com/English/PrepositionAfterAGerund/bzwdhh/post.htm I've found more information in Russian than in English, with the same rules. They had been teaching us the same way at the university years ago (a lot of too old information from Soviet books, for sure), that's why I'm so confused now.

– Victoria Gorshkova – 2014-12-29T10:38:23.780

2There's a lot of confusion out there about gerunds, and much of this is due to traditional grammar. Many grammar usage manuals out there are wrong too, so that doesn't help. You probably ought to find a vetted grammar source and use it: I prefer the framework done by the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, (CGEL). Maybe there's something online that explains the difference between *gerundial noun* and *present-participial adjective* and the verbs (*gerund* and *present participle*). – F.E. – 2014-12-29T22:44:29.180

Thank you, I will look for this CGEL. To tell the truth, it's the first time I hear about present-participial adjective. I will look for it too, but now I'm even more confused. Do you mean that "editing of" is not a gerund)? – Victoria Gorshkova – 2014-12-30T23:24:45.990

@VictoriaGorshkova OK, now I think I see what's going on. The terminology for the -ing form of a verb is confusing and not well standardized. Some people on the pages you linked to are distinguish “gerunds” from “verbal nouns”; other people say “verbal noun” to mean a broad category of words that includes “gerunds”. There are some situations where of doesn’t make sense after an -ing word. Off-hand, I’m not sure of the rule. Would you please post a separate question just about this? Probably that will yield a good answer. – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-31T00:04:17.960

Thank you very much, I'll do that. I see now that it really requires a separate question) – Victoria Gorshkova – 2015-01-01T18:03:32.533



Strictly speaking, the sentence is incorrect because listening of playlists is ungrammatical (unless the playlists are doing the listening). Since categorization takes of and editing takes of but listening takes to, you have to write this:

Some websites allow categorization of, editing of, and listening to playlists online.

This is grammatically correct but it sounds very clumsy. If each noun took the same preposition, you could use the same preposition for all three:

Some websites allow categorization, editing, and playing of playlists online.

This is grammatically correct but it sounds even clumsier because of the repetition of play. People would rather make a subtle grammatical error than write a sentence that sounds this clumsy.

The fact that the first two of the nouns take of probably led people to ignore the incorrect listen of for almost ten years now.

Another “fudge” solution is to choose the preposition to agree with only the nearest noun even if it disagrees with all the others, known as “proximate agreement”:

Some websites allow categorization, editing, and listening to playlists online.

There is, however, a better way:

Some websites allow users to categorize, edit, and listen to playlists online.

This is clearer because the users are mentioned explicitly, and the nominalized verbs are replaced with plain old infinitive verbs. The preposition to only agrees with listen, but that's OK: categorize and edit are transitive verbs, which take an object without any preposition at all. So, to connects only with listen and there is no disagreement with categorize and edit. So, this version has perfect grammar as well as greater clarity.

By the way, many gerunds do take of. For example: editing of playlists, feeding of animals, planting of gardens, singing of songs, etc. Also, gerunds normally function as nouns. In the original sentence, editing and listening are objects of allow, just like categorization.

Ben Kovitz

Posted 2014-12-28T23:16:16.410

Reputation: 25 752

1@VictoriaGorshkova I think it's a mistake to look for strict, general rules to cover all of English grammar. At its best, that leads to extremely complicated technicalities, which still only approximate the real grammar of English. If you learn one word or phrase at a time, and learn to vary them by analogy with other words and phrases that you know, then you'll understand real English grammar, the same way natives do. Simple rules are helpful for beginners, but "verbal noun vs. gerund" is entering the world of complicated technicalities that are probably more confusing than helpful. – Ben Kovitz – 2016-06-23T13:41:13.987

1I understand the "listening to" moment, but I am still confused with "editing of". I've given some information in the comment earlier on the page, is it incorrect? I couldn't find any information on gerunds taking the preposition "of" after them. I also use infinitives in the form "allow the user to" for replacement in difficult moments, but I really want to clear this question for myself) – Victoria Gorshkova – 2014-12-29T09:54:57.987

@Ben kovitz Why "playing of" is not correct? – 1010 – 2014-12-29T12:59:04.777

@1010 when it comes to soundtrack or music, you play 'them'. The preposition is not required. I'd say you *play a game of cricket*. :) – Maulik V – 2014-12-29T13:11:25.777

@MaulikV But Ben has used this preposition in above sentence? – 1010 – 2014-12-29T13:12:57.307

1@1010 “Playing of” is correct. But “playing of playlists” sounds clumsy, especially at the end of the list of three actions, so I can see why someone would want to avoid writing it. – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-29T14:59:55.657

@BenKovitz do you have some examples in which we use "Playing of". – 1010 – 2014-12-30T07:27:31.803


@1010 Yes, here are some. "A military funeral ends with the playing of taps." "Some states prohibit the playing of poker for money." "April Fool's Day is often celebrated by the playing of practical jokes."

– Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-30T23:51:42.993

1@1010 Oops, "celebrated by" should be "celebrated with" in my previous sentence. – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-31T13:01:58.110

Ben Kovitz, but all your examples are about verbal noun - and this is exactly what I was talking about. I'm asking if a gerund takes a preposition "of" after it? Yes, the verbal noun really does take it (and also is requires a definite article), but does the gerund? – Victoria Gorshkova – 2015-01-03T19:13:23.010


Some websites allow playlists to be categorized, edited, and listened to.

Using the passive, ending the sentence with a preposition, and inserting a comma after "edited". Winning at the one-armed bandit on ELL. Or:

Some websites let you categorize, edit, and listen to your playlists online.


Posted 2014-12-28T23:16:16.410

Reputation: 116 610

I understand there are lots of variants for replacement of difficult forms and I often use many of them, but I really want to clear up all this stuff with gerunds. – Victoria Gorshkova – 2014-12-29T12:26:42.310

1The rule is simple: with _GERUND _PREPOSITION _NOUN structure you must use the correct preposition. When you have a list: _GERUND, _GERUND, and _GERUND _PREPOSITION _NOUN, you can have in the list gerunds that require different prepositions. There is no good way to handle that awkwardness, merely an "accepted" kludge. Avoid lists of gerunds that require different prepositions. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2014-12-29T12:33:30.380

Thank you! Though, it's not only a question of lists: I'm much more confused by the information that gerunds can't take the preposition "of" after them. I've posted some links earlier in comments, people give the rules for that. I need a clear explanation about gerunds and possibility of using prepositions after them. If I can use the preposition "of" after gerunds, does it work with any gerund (except those "objects of prepositions" like "listen to" etc)? – Victoria Gorshkova – 2014-12-29T13:01:42.080