How to Teach Gerunds

Learning gerunds improves writing style and sentence structure.
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Middle school students begin to learn more about grammar and complex sentence structure in the eighth grade when they are introduced to verbals, which include participles, infinitives and gerunds. To help students understand, teach each verbal in a separate lesson. Students may find that learning gerunds is challenging, because gerunds are often confused with participles, which also end in "-ing." To avoid this, your lesson should include several activities for identifying and writing gerunds in sentences.

1 Read a Paragraph Filled With Gerunds Aloud

Read a funny paragraph filled with gerunds to the class to grab their attention. For example: "Trying to study while eating peanuts in the morning is hard when I'm running to school in the pouring rain on Saturday. But then when I start racing out the door, I begin coughing and laughing at the same time. Seeing that I was going to be late, I slowed down and decided walking was easier." Ask the class if they found any words that had similar endings. Point out the words ending in -ing and explain which ones are gerunds. Note that the word "pouring" is a participle, which will be covered in the next lesson. Facilitate a classroom discussion on the definition, formation and function of gerunds. Project the paragraph on the white board and call on students to circle each word ending in -ing.

2 Model Sentences With Gerunds

Display a variety of sentences that contain gerunds as the subject, object of a verb and following a preposition on the white board and review them with students. Instruct students to create their own sentences, modeling the ones on the board. Call on students to read their writings aloud. This will give students participatory practice writing a variety of sentences that feature gerunds.

3 Assign a Gerund Writing Activity

Challenge students with a timed writing prompt of three paragraphs that requires them to use at least 15 gerunds. Keep the assigned topic simple, like "summer vacation ideas," to stay focused on the main objective of the assignment. Have students swap papers for a peer review while highlighting each gerund.

4 Practice With Gerund Worksheets

Give students worksheets to complete in class and for homework. Create worksheets with a variety of activities such as filling in the blank with a gerund, functions of a gerund and identifying gerunds. Remind students that the worksheets are for practice, so they don't worry about making mistakes. The purpose of the worksheets is to allow students to practice until the skill is mastered. Review the completed worksheets with the class and give the correct answers.

Tabatha Manuel is a certified English and speech teacher in Michigan. She completed her master's degree in secondary education from the University of Phoenix in 2012, and bachelor's in public relations from Wayne State University in 2004. Manuel is also a licensed realtor and author of several urban crime and mystery novels.