Using Verb-Ing Forms After Prepositions: A Beginner’s Guide


Lesson Two

In the English language, there are certain situations where verbs take on an -ing form (gerund) when they follow prepositions like by, without, before, after, and more. This usage may seem a bit tricky for beginners, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a fundamental aspect of expressing actions and relationships between verbs and prepositions.

1. By + Gerund (Verb-Ing):

The combination of “by” followed by a gerund indicates the means or method by which an action is accomplished. For example:

  • By walking to work, I save money on transportation.

In this sentence, “walking” is the gerund, and “by” shows that walking is the means of saving money.

2. Without + Gerund (Verb-Ing):

“When without” is used before a gerund, it implies doing something or not doing something without a particular action. For example:

  • She passed the exam without studying.

Here, “studying” is the gerund, and “without” suggests that she passed the exam without the action of studying.

3. Before + Gerund (Verb-Ing):

“When before” is used before a gerund, it indicates that one action takes place prior to another action. For example:

  • I eat breakfast before going to work.

In this sentence, “going” is the gerund, and “before” signals that eating breakfast occurs first.

4. After + Gerund (Verb-Ing):

“After” followed by a gerund signifies an action that takes place subsequently to another action. For example:

  • After finishing his homework, he played video games.

Here, “finishing” is the gerund, and “after” indicates that playing video games occurs later.

5. In + Gerund (Verb-Ing):

When “in” is used before a gerund, it suggests that an action is happening during the course of another action. For example:

  • She laughed at hearing the funny joke.

Here, “hearing” is the gerund, and “in” shows that laughter happened during the act of hearing the joke.

6. On + Gerund (Verb-Ing):

“On” followed by a gerund can indicate that something is dependent on or influenced by a particular action. For example:

  • His success depends on working hard.

In this sentence, “working” is the gerund, and “on” suggests that success relies on the action of working hard.

Understanding the use of gerunds after prepositions can significantly improve your English language skills. It allows you to convey more complex ideas and relationships between actions. As you practice, you’ll become more comfortable using gerunds in various contexts, enhancing your ability to express yourself accurately and effectively in English. So, don’t hesitate to incorporate these structures into your language-learning journey and explore the richness of English grammar.

A Short Bibliography on Basic English Grammar:

  1. “English Grammar in Use” by Raymond Murphy – This popular book provides a comprehensive overview of English grammar with clear explanations, examples, and exercises suitable for learners of all levels.
  2. “Wren and Martin’s High School English Grammar and Composition” by P.C. Wren and H. Martin – A classic grammar book widely used in schools, it covers fundamental concepts and rules of English grammar.
  3. “Grammarly Handbook” (Online Resource) – Grammarly’s online handbook offers a wealth of information on English grammar, including articles, guides, and tips for improving writing skills.
  4. “English Grammar For Dummies” by Geraldine Woods – A user-friendly guide that simplifies English grammar rules and concepts, making them accessible to beginners.
  5. “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White – A timeless classic that focuses on writing style and grammar, offering concise and practical advice for effective communication.
  6. “Oxford English Grammar Course” by Michael Swan and Catherine Walter – This series of books and online resources provide a structured approach to learning English grammar, suitable for self-study or classroom use.

These resources cover the basics of English grammar and can be helpful for learners at various levels, from beginners to those looking to refine their grammar skills.


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