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Hi,

Please tell me whether the parts mentioned are a gerund or verbal noun.

1. Doll had this writing underneath her recent posts and I think it is called her signature.

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but lighting of a fire." W.B. Yeats

Are 'filling' and 'lighting' gerunds or verbal nouns? How could you tell the difference?

2. He heard a clamour and a barking of dogs under ...

Is 'barking' a gerund or verbal noun? How could you tell the difference?

3. Only salt can preserve things from spoiling.

This one seems to be clear and the word 'spoiling' seems to be a gerund with 'from' being a preposition. OK? But if the sentence is changed to (into??) this, then can it make the situation be different?

The spoiling of food can be prevented by using salt.

Is 'spoiling' here a gerund? I don't think so -- it looks to be a verbal noun in that it has the article 'the' in front of it. Gerunds cannot have the article 'the' or 'a' in front them?
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Comments  (Page 2) 
CJ,

He would not sit down until he had had his say in the matter.

Do you mean like 'a bite' from 'to bite'?

Don't you think that in He heard dogs barking barking is a participle?

Compare: She found the room empty
Schetin
«A grammar is only a view of language. No matter what terminology, if it helps avoid mistakes and explain phenomena, then the grammar is good.»

Very true. Also I'd say this: Rules describe the language, not define it. Rules follow from the language just like physical laws reflect reality, not vice versa.

«I think that trying to simplify understanding modern grammar makes it more ambiguous, hence even more complex.»

Who is simplifying?

CJ:

«All examples with the ---ing of --- are called gerunds there.»

I must have overlooked something, but I clearly see that all such examples are listed under the caption: "The VERBAL ABSTRACT NOUNS". Correct me if I am wrong.

1. That's a clever saying is one thing
2. My saying it doesn't make it so

Your comment:
«In the first use of saying, there is nothing at all verb-like about saying except that it is derived from the verb say; not so in the second use, where the action of saying, hence something verb-like, is involved.»

Also in #2 "saying" governs "it", which the old book declares a feature of the gerund, not the verbal noun.
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Ant_222I'd say this: Rules describe the language, not define it. Rules follow from the language just like physical laws just reflect reality, not vice versa.
Yes, I agree.
Ant_222Who is simplifying?
«I think that trying to simplify understanding the modern grammar makes it more ambiguous, hence even more complex.».

CJThere is a fuzzy line between the two, but in the historical period in which they wrote this grammar it was probably regarded as unscholarly, if not shameful, to admit this. Hence, they say that the two categories are very strictly separate. I find it hard to believe that such a strict division actually exists in the real world.

Wouldn't it be better to suggest that it's a process and there's no line between the two?

CJ...there are three types of verbal noun: gerunds, bare infinitives, and full infinitives
I think it's another extreme...
Do you mean like 'a bite' from 'to bite'?
Yes. English is full of zero-related nominals.

Don't you think that in He heard dogs barking barking is a participle?
Yes. Did I say somewhere that it wasn't? To me, it's just an -ing word.

The fact is that in 99% of cases, nothing important hinges on whether or how you subdivide, categorize, and label various uses of -ingwords, so it amazes me how much interest there is in the topic. Emotion: smile

CJ
«All examples with the ---ing of --- are called gerunds there.»

I must have overlooked something, but I clearly see that all such examples are listed under the caption: "The VERBAL ABSTRACT NOUNS". Correct me if I am wrong.
I'm sorry to say that you are mistaken about this. Section 11 (3) has the verbal (abstract) nouns that end in -ing, such as saying, foreboding, meaning, drawing, blessing, ..., whereas Section 273 describes the gerunds and presents the the ...-ing of ... examples.

[Section 11 (3) is quoted in one of my previous posts in this thread. I believe 273 is quoted elsewhere.]

CJ
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CalifJimThe fact is that in 99% of cases, nothing important hinges on whether or how you subdivide, categorize, and label various uses of -ingwords, so it amazes me how much interest there is in the topic.Emotion: smile
I agree on how, not whether. Labeling things helps a lot in explanations. You can correlate phenomena in different languages if you label them appropriately. You may feel categorization unnecessary - it's your native language. But you explain it to foreigners.
Wouldn't it be better to suggest that it's a process and there's no line between the two?
No. Not in my opinion -- unless you mean a historical process, perhaps.

I believe that there are a lot of cases (like the one I illustrated earlier with saying) where it is relatively easy to see the difference between an -ing word that's better described as a noun and an -ing word that's better described as a gerund. So I can't agree that there is no line between the two.

Rather, as I said, I believe that there is a fuzzy line between the two, simply because there are -ing words that are more difficult to assign one label or another unequivocally. At least it seems that way to me. For example,

We saw some very clever dancing at the theater last night.


Does dancing refer purely to the dance steps or body movements or somehow to the act or activity of dancing? How much difference is there between the two? Does it matter? Does anything important hinge on whether we call dancing a (verbal) noun or a gerund? How 'nouny' is this usage; how 'verby'? I think this case is one of the fuzzy ones.

CJ
CJ: «Section 11 (3) has the verbal (abstract) nouns that end in -ing, such as saying, foreboding, meaning, drawing, blessing,»

Yes, and there are "the V-ing of" examples among them:

1. The best thoughts and sayings of the Greeks
2. ...the well-being of her subjects
3. The rude drawings of the book
4. the main bearings of this matter

They all are called verbal nouns.

«Section 273 describes the gerunds and presents the the ...-ing of ... examples»

1. The taking of means not to see another morning had all day absorbed every energy
2. Our culture therefore must not omit the arming of the man.
3. The guilt of having been cured of the palsy by a Jewish maiden.

Yes, I overlooked this. But: in all of the three examples the meaning of "of" somehow differs from the simple expression of belonging:

1. Maens are taken, the "of" is just a way to subordinate "means" to "taking".

2. The same.

3. "Cure of" is a standart way to match the word "cure" with the name of an illness.

So, in all cases we see subordination, i.e. gerunds that govern nouns. While in "the drawings of the book" "drawings" in no way govern "the book".

[«The barking of the dog» B&S would call this a gerund.»]

No. As well as they don't call a gerund "the drawings of the book".

P.S.: Sorry if I have tired you.
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You may feel categorization unnecessary - it's your native language. But you explain it to foreigners.
Just a little question. Are you interested in English in the way that a linguist is interested in language generally? Or are you simply trying to become proficient at speaking and writing it?

If the former, then the terminology would be valuable, but even then, probably not terminology that's a century old. I'd recommend learning more about transformational grammar in this case. You won't regard that as over-simplified, I guarantee!
If the latter, then repeating and imitating the language of native speakers and writers will increase your proficiency much faster than any amount of mastery of the terminology.

An analogy: You don't need to understand the inside of a watch to be able to tell time. But you do if you're interested in becoming a watchmaker. Emotion: smile

CJ
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