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  4. Verb Tenses

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Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!

Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives

A gerund is a verb ending in “ing” that acts as a noun. 

Example: Her singing annoyed her classmates.

“Singing” is a noun (thing) that is performing the action in this sentence.  Here are some other examples of gerunds:

Example: The barking of Johnny's dog kept his neighbors up at night.

Example: Slipping on ice is a common cause of injury in the winter.

Example: Gwenn decided to break up with Max after observing his sloppy eating.

A participle is a verb ending in “ing” that acts as an adjective.

Example: The mother could not figure out how to help her crying baby.

“Crying” is an adjective because it is describing the baby.  Here are some additional examples of participles.

Example: The blaring music left my ears ringing for days.

Example: After looking around in irritation, it dawned on my that the ringing cellphone was my own.

Example: The streaking man was tackled by three police officers and escorted off the field.

An infinitive is the word “to” plus a verb in its base form.  An infinitive can act as many parts of a sentence.

Example: We decided to wait another hour before going to dinner.

“To wait” completes the meaning of the verb “decided” in this sentence.

Example: The party was thrown to celebrate my cousin's graduation.

Example: Susan thought it best to tell her dad about her car wreck before he found out himself.

Example: Despite my bad experience last time, I still decided to order an incredibly spicy meal from the Indian restaurant.

It is important to remember that infinitives only occur when "to" is followed by a verb.  When not followed by a verb, "to" is a preposition and often indicates a prepositional phrase.

For more information about nouns, verbs, and adjectives, read our page on Parts of Speech.