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 4) 
Any verb adding ing is a gerund, and gerunds are verbal nouns. Verbal nouns are nouns that stem from verbs, and I've only seen gerunds given as examples of verbal nouns here. Verbs like to accomplish and to move are the stems of the verbal nouns accomplishment and movement. There are other types of suffixes that change verbs into verbal nouns, adding ing is specifically for gerunds.
The difference between gerunds and verbal nouns is that the gerund is NOT used with an article,while the verbal noun may be used with an article and may be used in the plural.So,in the 1st sentence it's the verbal noun.The same situation with the next one."Preserve" smth from ---ing(it's definitely gerund).In the last sentence the meaning is the same as in the previous one BUT 'the spoiling' is not gerund any longer.
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How can I differentiate a verbal noun and a gerund?

What is the difference between a verbal noun and a gerund?

Have you read the earlier posts in this thread?

Best wishes, Clive
AnonymousHow can I differentiate a verbal noun and a gerund?
Look up the -ing word in question at www.m-w.com.

If you get a hit on the -ing word saying that it's a noun, the -ing word is probably a verbal noun.
If you get a hit on the same word without the -ing saying that it's a verb, and the -ing form is merely listed as one of the forms of that verb, the -ing form is probably a gerund.

For example, saying, drawing, finding, and well-being are all listed in the dictionary as nouns, but throwing and stealing are not. These latter two look-ups will take you to the verbs throw and steal, respectively, where throwing and stealing will be listed as forms of those verbs.

Moreover, if an -ing word listed as a noun is used without an object, or in the plural, it is almost certainly a verbal noun. If an -ing word listed as a verb is used with an object, it is almost certainly a gerund.

The panel has been asked to verify its findings through an independent committee. [verbal noun]
Throwing the ball became difficult for Joseph after he hurt his arm in last week's game. [gerund]

Reread this thread from the beginning for further details.

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Vebal nouns can be divided in to 2 groups-
infinitive and gerund
infinitive is To+verb
eg. To go, To eat

Gerund is verb + ing
eg. going, eating

So, the answer for your question is all the underlined words are gerunds

Hi, CJ, if/when you have time, could you please take a look at my confusions and doubts? I liked all of your explanations/replies on this thread, but there's one point at which I am stuck. I am going to quote that particular post of yours below to make clearer what I am confused about.
CalifJimwell-being sounds like a noun to me, because I hear it so often as a noun, so I would never call it a gerund.
I've never heard barking as a noun, so I call it a gerund. The noun (or 'zero-related nominal') is seen in That dog has a very loud bark, but his bark is worse than his bite.
Here I'm going by linguistic intuition alone, of course -- nothing scholarly or rigorous.
Maybe you feel a difference on the basis of whether the completing phrase is a subject or an object of the -ing word.
What do you mean by "completing phrase" here? By “completing phrase”, do you mean the "of phrases" which follow the -ing words?
CalifJimSubject of the -ing word after of:
the well-being of her subjects << Her subjects are well.
the barking of the dogs << The dogs are barking.
the rustling of the leaves << The leaves are rustling.
the singing of Pavarotti << Pavarotti is singing.
Object of the -ing word after of.
the stacking of wood << Someone is stacking wood.
the lifting of the embargo << Someone is lifting the embargo.
the training of the athletes << Someone is training the athletes.
the hunting of wild animals << Someone is hunting wild animals.
Here, do you mean that the words 'subjects', 'dogs', 'leaves' are subjects of the "-ing" words? And if so, would you kindly tell me why the words 'wood', 'embargo', 'athletes' and 'animals' below are objects of the "-ing" words if this is what you mean by "object of the -ing word after 'of'? I mean I don't understand why you referred to 'subjects', 'dogs', 'leaves' etc. as subjects of the "ing" words and the words 'wood', 'embargo', 'athletes' etc. as the objects of the "ing" words.

Thank you, CJ.