Summary of the Gerund (p1/3)
Summary of Use
The gerund is a verb noun, as the English gerund, which ends in -ing
- Reading is a doorway.
The gerund is a (neuter singular) genitive, dative, accusative or ablative declension of the gerundive, the fourth principle part of the Latin noun
- moneō, monēre, monuī, monitus (for the gerund, imagine monitum)
An important distinction between English and Latin gerunds: Latin gerunds appear only in the oblique cases.
Where a nominative is needed, Latin uses the infinitive
- Reading is a doorway: legēre porta est.
- The habit of reading is a doorway: mōs legendī porta est.
Gerund vs. Gerundive
Ideally, the gerundive, a verbal adjective, will agree with its corresponding noun, while the gerund, a verbal noun, remains neuter singular
- This isn’t helpful when working with neuter nouns
Here are some examples that we can distinguish:
- He had a design of taking the city: ratiō urbis capiendae tenuit. (gerundive)
- He had a design of taking the city: ratiō urbem capiendī tenuit. (gerund)
- The phrase urbis capiendae is entirely feminine, but the phrase urbem capiendī sees a neuter verbal noun with a feminine accusative object
- Here, the gerundive is preferred
Here’s a more challenging example:
- I occupied myself in the forum, the Curia and the defense of my friends: in forō, in cūriā, in amīcōrum perīculīs prōpulsandīs
- First, note that gerunds and gerundives may be placed in apposition to nouns
- Second, see that perīculum is neuter (dative or ablative), but prōpellō takes an accusative direct object
- Therefore, prōpulsandīs must be agreeing with perīculīs, and this must be a gerundive construction
- The (more awkward) gerund equivalent: in amīcōrum perīcula prōpulsandīs
A gerund with a direct object is rare, so don’t let it worry you
The Essential AG: §501-503
Famous Phrase: tenet insānābile multōs scrībendī cacoethes
(the insatiable itch of writing grips many) -Juvenal, Saturās, 7.51