gerund or verb?


"Unexpectedly, the phone and cell phone stopped working."                 I know that stopped is the verb, but what is "working?"  Is it part of the verb, too?  Or a gerund/participle?Thanks.

verb asked Mar 18 '13 at 16:25 AZTeach New member

2 answers


Such a disagreement is news to me. There is no question in my mind that "working" is a gerund. The verb "stop" can be followed by either an infinitive verb or a gerund, with completely different meanings. "Working" is certainly not a participle. A gerund is a verb that functions like a noun, in that it can be a subject or, as in the case of this sentence, an object. So the distinction between "verb" and "gerund" in the earlier response is unhelpful.

link answered Mar 18 '13 at 17:39 Shawn Mooney Expert

Not that this website is an authority, but here's an example of someone talking about the disagreement (I swear I didn't make it up!):

"There is some difference of opinion over the exact meaning of the phrase 'compound verb.' Some authorities include structures such as 'He went missing' as an example of a compound verb. Others believe that 'missing' is better identified as a gerundive used as a noun. "

Actually HollyMar 18 '13 at 17:49

There is some abstruse linguistic theorizing about this which is utterly unhelpful and complex, but the simple test is whether you can modify the -ing word with an adverb; if you can, then it's either a gerund or present participle; if not, it's what's called either a verbal noun, a deverbal noun, a deverbal adjective, or a gerundive. Here, "working" can definitely be modified by an adverb so there is no question but that it's a gerund ("The cellphone stopped working well")

Shawn MooneyMar 19 '13 at 08:14

Linguistic theorizing is unhelpful and complex? No way! :)

Thanks for the extra info.

Actually HollyMar 19 '13 at 13:27

Admittedly I get off on wading into linguistic theory on occasion but I am sure you agree that it is rarely of any help with answering the kind of questions that are posed here.

Shawn MooneyMar 22 '13 at 22:40

add comment

Not everyone agrees. Some people consider phrases like "stopped working" to be a compound verb, where both "stopped" and "working" are verbs. Others consider "stopped" to be the verb, where "working" is a gerund.

link comment answered Mar 18 '13 at 16:51 Actually Holly Expert

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.