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Present participle vs the Gerund

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Present participle vs the Gerund

Postby Einhard » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:15 pm

Hey all,
Have just spent a bit of time on the Gerund, and though it isn't difficult to learn the form, I'm puzzled as to its use. Wheelock states that it corresponds to "-ing", and thus laudandi, laudando, laudandum, laudando can be translated as of praising, to praising, praising, by praising. That's all well and good, but isn't that exactly what the Present Participle equates to? One is a verbal noun, the other a verbal adj, and I suspect that's where the difference lies, but I'd appreciate it if someone could shed a little more light on the whole thing.

Thanks in advance,
Einhard.
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Re: Present participle vs the Gerund

Postby phil » Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:45 am

The present particple is, as you say an adjective, and it describes a noun. A loving father is pater amans. The word amans is an adjective and declines to agree with its noun. The son of the loving father is filius patris amantis.

However the gerund is a verbal noun. i.e. the act of loving can itself be regarded as a thing, and so the fear of loving would be timor amandi. You're not fearing sombody who is loving, but fearing loving itself. 'Loving' isn't an adjective at all, but a noun, similar to the construction timor mortis, the fear of death, comprised of two nouns.

Hope this helps.

Phil
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Re: Present participle vs the Gerund

Postby rustymason » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:58 pm

Phil,

Just gotta tell ya, Excellent answer. Magistri and advanced learners often forget how confusing it was to originally learn what they are now experts in -- it was so long ago and the answers now seem so obvious that they don't need explaining. Ergo, they often give too little. Just as often, they give too much in order to be thorough, helpful, or interesting, unwittingly adding extra doubt in the learner's mind. Much of learning is not only discovering what is right, it is eliminating the many incorrect assumptions that creep in. You've done both nicely concisely. Bene dictum.

Vale,
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phil wrote:The present particple is, as you say an adjective, and it describes a noun. A loving father is pater amans. The word amans is an adjective and declines to agree with its noun. The son of the loving father is filius patris amantis.

However the gerund is a verbal noun. i.e. the act of loving can itself be regarded as a thing, and so the fear of loving would be timor amandi. You're not fearing sombody who is loving, but fearing loving itself. 'Loving' isn't an adjective at all, but a noun, similar to the construction timor mortis, the fear of death, comprised of two nouns.

Hope this helps.

Phil
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Re: Present participle vs the Gerund

Postby phil » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:47 pm

Thanks, Rusty. I appreciate your comments. Next week I start the chapter on the gerundive!
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Re: Present participle vs the Gerund

Postby ptolemyauletes » Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:54 pm

Here is my little bit on Gerund/Gerundive and present active participles.
Firstly, you need to think a little about what the ending 'ing' means in English. It is used in many different ways, but not all of these differences are obvious to native speakers.

1. I am reading- Used as a verb.
2. I like reading - Used as a noun, the object of the sentence.
3. Reading is fun - Used as a noun, the subject of the sentence.
4. I learn by reading - Used as a noun, following a preposition.
5. I saw a man walking - Used as a present participle, describing a noun.

Do not be confused by the similarities of 'ing'. Understand what each actually means.

Now, Latin, being a different language, treats all of these uses in different ways.

Let's look at each one, then look at where participles and gerunds/gerundives fit in.


1. I am reading- Used as a verb.
Latin simply uses a verb - lego.

2. I love reading - Used as a noun, the object of the sentence.
Latin uses an infinitive here - amo legere.

3. Reading is great- Used as a noun, the subject of the sentence.
Again, Latin uses an infinitive here - legere est magnum.

4. I learn by reading - Used as a noun, following a preposition.
Latin will use a gerund here, in the ablative case - disco legendo

5. I saw a man reading- Used as a present participle, describing a noun.
Here Latin uses a present, active, participle - virum legentem vidi

Present Participles.
Present Participles are most commonly rendered in English with 'ing'.
They describe a noun, pronoun or adjective. They are, in effect, an adjective with a verbal quality.
They can be translated into English in a variety of ways.
virum legentem vidi = I saw a man reading, I saw a man who was reading, I saw a man as he was reading, etc.


Gerunds and Gerundives
These two are grammatically different from each other, but only subtly different in meaning.
A Gerund is a verbal noun, a Gerundive is a verbal adjective, a participle really, but used much like a Gerund.

They are often rendered in English as 'ing', but can be found in several other english Constructions, the most common being purpose clauses.

Examples of Gerunds, Gerundives
I have a love of reading - mihi est amor legendi (genitive Gerund)
I learn by reading - disco legendo (ablative Gerund)
I came to read books - veni ad legendos libros (accusative Gerundive)
He puts effort into reading - legendo operam dat (dative Gerund)

Gerundives (not Gerunds) can also be used in the passive periphrastic Construction.
I should read this book - hic liber mihi legendus est


Finally, a note on distinguishing Gerunds from Gerundives.
Gramatically they are different, but in actual meaning the difference is subtle.

Grammatical Difference
The Gerund is a verbal noun, that may take an accusative object.
I learn by reading books - disco libros legendo.

The Gerundive is a verbal adjective, so it follows the case of the noun it is describing.
I learn by reading books - disco libris legendis.


Difference in Meaning
Gerunds are verbal nouns focussing on the Action:
disco libros legendo.I learn by reading... books.

Gerundives are Verbal Adjectives focussing on the noun they describe:
disco libris legendis. I learn by books ... reading them.

I hope this is helpful and not too long winded.
This is usually how I teach my 6th Form students.
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Re: Present participle vs the Gerund

Postby Einhard » Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:19 pm

Thanks for the help everyone. Seems my problem had more to do with English grammar than with the Latin!

Thanks again,

Einhard.
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