Difference Between Gerund and Verbal Noun

Main Difference – Gerund vs Verbal Noun

Gerunds and verbal nouns are two noun forms that are derived from verbs. Many people tend to confuse gerunds and verbal nouns, especially if they end in the –ing form. It is important to note that all gerunds end in -ing form whereas verbal nouns can have different endings. However, the main difference between gerund and verbal noun is that a gerund can take an object whereas a verbal noun cannot. This is mainly because verbal nouns do not possess properties of verbs.

This article explains, 

1. What is a Gerund – Grammar, Meaning, Usage with Examples

2. What is a Verbal Noun – Grammar, Meaning, Usage with Examples

3. Difference Between Gerund and Verbal noun Difference Between Gerund and Verbal Noun - Gerund vs Verbal Noun Comparison Summary

What is a Gerund

Gerund is a noun that is derived from a verb. They always end with -ing. For example, look at the verb forms below.

singing, reading, writing, being, smiling, hunting, smoking, playing, killing

These verb forms can act as gerunds as well as present participles. It all depends on how they are used in a sentence.

He is singing a song.

Here, singing functions as a verb. Thus singing is a present participle in this sentence.

Singing is his hobby.

Here, be (is) is the main verb of the sentence. Signing acts as a noun.

Gerunds can be used as a subject, subject complements, direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions.

Gerund as a Subject

Smoking causes lung cancer.

Attending meetings is one of her duties.

Gerund as a Subject Complement

His favorite activity is cooking.

Signing is one of life’s pleasures.

Gerund as a Direct Object

He loves singing, but he doesn’t have a good voice.

He doesn’t like working on Sundays.

Gerund as a Object of Preposition

He was arrested for vandalizing public property.

She is good at singing.

Since gerund takes the form of a noun, it also has some properties of a verb. The main property that sets gerund apart from verbal nouns is its ability to take objects.

Killing animals is immoral.

Smoking cigarettes is injurious to health.

Difference Between Gerund and Verbal Noun

Singing is his passion.

What is a Verbal Noun

A verbal noun is also a noun derived from a verb. Verbal nouns can be formed in a number of ways; however, the most common way of forming a verbal noun is adding a suffix to the base form of the verb.

Ex: Sing – Singing, Kill – Killing, Arrive – Arrival, Depart – Departure, Return – Return, Decide – Decision, Destruct – Destruction

Although verbal nouns are derived from a verb, they have all the properties of nouns. A verbal noun can be modified by adjectives and preceded by determiners. For example,

The second killing was more gruesome than the first.

(The – Determiner, Second– Adjective)

A verbal noun can take also take a plural form.

She understood the message after several readings.

However, some verbal nouns, especially the nouns that end with –ing, are easily confused with present participles and gerunds.

Main Difference -Gerund vs Verbal Noun

She understood it after several readings.

Difference Between Gerund and Verbal Noun


Gerunds end in –ing.

Verbal Nouns can have different endings.


Gerunds have some verbal properties.

Verbal Nouns do not have any verbal properties.


Gerunds can take objects.

Verbal Nouns cannot take objects.

Plural Form

Gerunds do not take the plural form.

Verbal Nouns can take plural forms.


Gerunds do not follow adjectives.

Verbal Nouns can be modified by adjectives.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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