Tuesday, June 20, 2006

plural gerunds

A general rule for gerunds that our workbook gives is that gerunds are singular. This is accurate in most cases because most gerunds serve as non count or uncountable nouns and do not have a plural form. For example, in the sentence, Skiing is my favorite winter activity., skiing is always singular and can not be counted. As I wrote before, this guideline is accurate in most cases. However, a few gerunds can be countable and have a plural form. In the Collins COBUILD English Grammar, there is a list the more frequent gerunds that have plural forms.

beginning feeling meeting setting turning
being finding offering showing warning
building hearing painting sitting
drawing meaning saying suffering (page 28)

The writers point out that many of these words have different meanings in the plural form than in the verb form. One example of this difference is the word feel.

As a verb, feeling refers to the sense of touch, health or mood.

She is feeling the roughness of the fabric.
He is feeling a little sick from the long ride.
She is feeling sad that her sister could not come along.

As a noun, feeling refers to the sense of touch, emotions, or opinions.

The feeling in his hands returned as his hands warmed up.
His has mixed feelings about this trip.
Their feelings were that the judge was unfair.

When we rely on the guidelines that gerunds are singular, we should keep in mind the exceptions listed above.