Crews worked at containment, keeping the oil from spreading, but their efforts weren't effective.

I was asked whether the word 'keeping' was a gerund or a participle.

I said that it was a participle and the whole phrase in italics describes 'Crews'.

However, another another person argued that it was an appositive phrase. So this person believes it is a gerund.

What do you think it is? In other words, do you think that the phrase renames the word 'containment' or the phrase describes 'Crews'?

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Comments  (Page 4) 
Lesson 1: Participles
1. she's always keeping her things in proper way.
-ing is used as a particple.

Example 2;
Lesson 2: Gerunds
1. Hiola is keeping the dresses she made for the comng up prom in their school.
-ing is used as a gerund
-and the subject is keeping.
-used as a subject compliment
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And your question is... ?
I think keeping is a present participle


(1) I think that I have the answer -- which probably means that I

am wrong.

(2) I agree with Grammar Geek that "keeping the oil from spilling"

should be parsed as an appositive. That is, it is a gerund phrase/clause

that is in apposition with "containment."

(3) But I also agree with R.H. that -- technically speaking -- "keeping

the oil from spelling" cannot be an appositive because those 5 words

are not synonymous with the noun "containment."

(4) How can they both be right? I may (repeat "may") have found

the answer in (of course) A Comprehensive Grammar of the English

Language by Professor Randolph Quirk et al.

(a) They claim that weak [all words in bold type are my emphasis]

apposition = the appositives come from different syntactic classes.

The optional indicator namely may be used if the second appositive

is more specific, which is the case when the second appositive is a

clause (finite or nonfinite). Their examples:

She has a problem: namely should she charge them for the damage?

Their solution, namely to appoint a committee, is deplorable.

(b) I submit for your consideration:

Crews worked at containment, namely keeping the oil from spreading,

but their efforts weren't effective.
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I apologize abjectly for "spilling" and "spelling."

I really proofread the comments 5 times before posting.

Just proves that important documents should always be

proofread by at least two persons.
I have just received input by someone who really knows her


I wish to share it.

She agrees with Mr. Pedantic and CalifJim that

"keeping the oil from spreading" may, indeed, refer to "Crews

worked on containment."

She says that we could interpret it as an elliptical adjective


The crews worked on containment, [which was]

keeping the oil from spreading, but their efforts were

not effective.

(Some books interpret the "which" as a relative pronoun referring

to the whole preceding sentence. In other words, "which" =

which fact. )