Gerund phrase or participle phrase



Q1 : Nothing would prevent him speaking out against injustice.

I guess that "speaking out against injustice" is a gerund phrase as an object complement. Am right?

Q2: Last night I saw him riding his bike on the street, when I was walking to home.

I guess that "riding his bike on the street" is a participle phrase as an adjective. Am I right?

Blod Mary

Posted 2015-08-18T14:26:41.160

Reputation: 59

I think "Prevent sb from sth" is more natural to me ! – Cardinal – 2015-08-18T14:37:48.000

Thank u so much! But I'd known it. I just wondered what this verbal phrase can be at this situation. And that example sentence is form British English. – Blod Mary – 2015-08-18T14:46:59.637

riding his bike on the street = while he was riding right? – Blod Mary – 2015-08-18T14:48:24.363

Actually since gerund is most often used as a noun, shouldn't Q1 be "*Nothing would prevent his speaking out against injustice*"? Otherwise, if "him" is an object for "prevent", then "speaking" is also an object, but it needs a preposition, as @Cardinal suggests. – Victor Bazarov – 2015-08-18T15:38:29.957

@VictorBazarov Yes, Gerund is a noun and it take the roles of Nouns, however, your possessive form didn't come to my mind! – Cardinal – 2015-08-18T15:48:28.407

@Cardinal: I am not sure how to take your exclamation point :-) I guess, I'd like to say, "And...?" – Victor Bazarov – 2015-08-18T17:22:06.453

@VictorBazarov I am saying you are right, using "his" was very good , and sorry for my terrible English ! – Cardinal – 2015-08-18T18:28:16.247

you haven't heard about object complement? – Blod Mary – 2015-08-22T05:22:42.203

@BlodMary If you can relate, mmm, this answer might help you regarding your first sentence and what Victor already committed -

– Man_From_India – 2016-07-06T14:48:59.927

As for this particular question, whether it's gerund or participle, you can refer to this answer -

– Man_From_India – 2016-07-06T14:53:58.627



Last night I saw him riding his bike on the street, when I was walking to home.

You could just say Last night I saw him and that sentence would still make sense. So riding his bike on the street is modifying him. Since adjectives modify nouns (or verbals), that means it's a participle.

Nothing would prevent him speaking out against injustice.

You can't say Nothing would prevent him without the sentence feeling unfinished (unless a previous context fills in the blank). The sentence needs an object, and nouns answer for objects. Caveat: subject complements but the verb prevent doesn't work like that.

So speaking out against injustice functions independently - i.e. it doesn't grammatically modify anything, so it'd have to be a noun and thus a gerund.


Posted 2015-08-18T14:26:41.160

Reputation: 31 841

You can't say when I was walking to home. Omit "to" the word "home"is not followed by preposition "to".it is often used as an adverb. – I don't know who I am. – 2016-02-07T14:55:05.870

@Lawrence Your first quoted sentence would have been better if you placed that when-clause at the beginning of the sentence. Another modification that would make it better is to drop to before home, but I don't think it's mandatory. Nor do I think using it the way you did would make the sentence incorrect. But the most common practice is to drop to in such cases. – Man_From_India – 2016-07-06T14:24:19.523

Another thing is riding his bike is never an adjective. It modifies a noun, but that doesn't mean it has to be an adjective. In this sentence - "Look at that man over there in red shirt, who is the retired army officer." - the relative clause also modifies a noun, but we are not calling it an adjective. – Man_From_India – 2016-07-06T14:27:25.477

1Adjectives modify verbs - > this seems too strange, because I have never known such things; can you please cite some example sentences where an adjective does modify a verb? – Man_From_India – 2016-07-06T14:35:05.957

I think I meant verbals. Corrected. – LawrenceC – 2016-07-06T14:45:21.160

@LawrenceC ah got it what you meant by "verbal". You meant sentences like this, right? But can you really put an adjective to your "riding" sentence? – Man_From_India – 2016-07-06T14:56:43.347

@Man_From_India in fact we do refer to relative clauses as adjectives, specifically as adjective clauses:

– fjack – 2016-08-05T20:38:12.950


The verb construction "to prevent sb from sth/doing sth" is often shortened to "to prevent sb doing sth". Here you have a gerund. After a preposition you always have a gerund.

In sentence 2 (I saw him riding his bike ...) riding is traditionally seen as a participle. But you could interpret it as a gerund as well (I saw him + he was in the act of riding his bike). In such cases you might call it gp (gerund or participle).


Posted 2015-08-18T14:26:41.160

Reputation: 8 304

Not really. In the sentence "I saw him (riding his bike)", the part in the parenthesis does not act as a noun, so there's no gerund in there. It's a participle, because it acts as an adjective, describing the state of the object, "him", in which you sam him. If you want a gerund, here's an example of it: "(Reading books) is my favourite activity." – SasQ – 2019-03-28T07:19:44.893