Gerund vs Present Participle

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Hi people!
Would anyone be so kind to explain the difference between these two verbals?
Here are some examples which I find confusing:
1. A walking stick: Is "walking" to be taken as a gerund here for it is "a stick for walking", and not used attributively?
2. Speaking parrots: Is "speaking" a present participle for these are "parrots that speak"?
And here, an even more confusing example:
A washing machine: Gerund = A machine for washing.
A washing machine: Present Pariciple = A machine that washes.
Could anyone give me some tips so that making the distinction between the two becomes easier for me?
Thanks a lot!
Full Member169
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Approved answer (verified by )
Gerunds are the nominal forms (noun forms) of verbs, that is, verb forms in -ing used as nouns.
Present (and past) participles are adjectival forms of verbs. The present participles are verb forms in -ing used as adjectives.

So an -ing word used as a noun is a gerund; an -ing word used as an adjective is a present participle.

a long stick - a walking stick Both "long" and "walking" are adjectives. In this context "walking" is a present participle.

colorful parrots - speaking parrots. Both "colorful" and "speaking" are adjectives. In this context "speaking" is a present participle.

an efficient machine - a washing machine Both "efficient" and "washing" are adjectives. "washing" is a present participle.

a machine for the purification of chemicals - a machine for washing Both "purification" and "washing" are nouns. "washing" is a gerund in this context.

a machine that purifies - a machine that washes. Both "purifies" and "washes" are verbs. There are no gerunds or participles here.

fires are prohibited in this area - hunting is prohibited in this area. Both "fires" and "hunting" are nouns. "hunting" is a gerund in this context.

One note of caution: -ing words that denote physical objects are plain nouns, not gerunds.
The building collapsed. "building" is a noun, but not a gerund.

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How about "tackling box"?
Full Member336
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Hi CalifJim!

What about "Building cars is a very difficult task"? Is "building" here a gerund or a plain noun? I'd say it's a gerund, what do you think?


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One more thing:

I accept that speaking parrots is a present participle, but as regards "walking stick" or "swimming trunk", I wouldn't readily call "walking" and "swimming" present participles. I think they're gerunds, for they are not used here as adjectives, i.e. "a stick that walks" or "a trunk that swims" but rather as nouns, functioning the same way as "street" in "a street light". This is rather confusing to me, could you expand on your anwers?

Thanks a lot!

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and what is it in "killing gorillas is a crime"?????

gerund or not? i am so confused with this thermes
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Killing is a gerund-- the subject of the verb is.
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Swimming pool means a pool which is used to swim. "Which is used to to swim" is an adjective clause functioning to modify the pool. It must be very clear to you that a word or clause modifying a noun is an adjective. Now move to your question, Gerund or P.Participle. Only one thing u must remember to differenciate the two terms. Gerund functions as a noun and P.Participle functions as an adjective. O hope it is clear to u now. Thanks.

Angiet Parda Smora
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we can make diferencies by used (who) and (for)


I see dringking man

it's no gerund, because refers to man ( Who ? ) a drinking man

I need the drinking water

It's gerund (for what The water) ,dringking
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