What is a passive gerund in English?

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passive gerund in English
passive gerund in English

This post helps you understand what a passive gerund is (a gerund in the passive voice), and how to use it in a sentence.

What is a gerund in passive voice?

A passive gerund or a gerund in the passive voice is a progressive form of a verb (a verb ending with ‘ing’) that is in the passive voice and works as a noun in a sentence. A verb is used in the passive passive voice when the focus is on the receiver of the action, not the doer (subject) of the action.

A gerund (active) is an ‘ing’ form (progressive) of a verb that functions as a noun. EX – sleeping, teaching, working, talking, etc.

passive gerund in English
passive gerund in English

Check out these two examples to understand when to use a gerund in active and passive voice.

Ex – I love appreciating others. (active)

Appreciating is a gerund here, working as the direct object of the verb love. The gerund is in the active voice as the subject performs this action of appreciating.

Ex – I love being appreciated. (passive)

Here, the object of the verb love (being appreciated) is a gerund phrase in the passive voice, meaning the subject does not perform this action, the subject receives (loves receiving the action) it. In other words, it means “I love that people appreciate me” or “People love me, and I appreciate that”.

This can be written using an infinitive in the passive form: I love to be appreciated. The doer of the action appreciate is not mentioned in the sentence as we don’t focus on it in the passive voice. But we can always add it to the sentence if we want to: I love being appreciated by others.


Examples of passive gerunds

Being slapped in front of your family is embarrassing.

The subject of this sentence is a gerund phrase in the passive voice: being slapped in front of your family. Here, the speaker is calling an action embarrassing. Note that doing the action is not embarrassing, receiving it is. Whoever getting embarrassed by the action does not perform the action here, they receive it.

If the action were in the active voice, the sentence would be written as the following: Slapping people in front of their families is embarrassing. Now, the meaning of the sentence has changed.

Tom is still sad about being slapped in the meeting.

Here, the gerund phrase is working as the object of the preposition about. The subject is sad about an action that he received. If he were sad about an action that had performed, the action (gerund) would be in the active voice.

Tom is still sad about slapping Jerry in the meeting. Here, in this sentence, the subject is sad about an action that he performed, not received. The gerund phrase in the active voice.

Being selected for this program is a true blessing.

The speaker is calling an action he received a true blessing. The subject, here, is a passive gerund phrase.

More examples of passive gerunds:

  • I don’t like being told what and what not to do.
  • She does not appreciate being touched again and again.
  • He was not upset about being fired from the job.
  • Being cheated by someone you love is the last thing you want.
  • Joanna hates being called Jony.
  • How can you not be excited about being offered that job?
  • We are grateful about having been invited to the king’s palace.

Types of passive gerunds in English

A passive gerund has two forms:

  1. Simple gerund
  2. Perfect gerund

Simple gerund (passive form)

A simple gerund or gerund phrase refers to the present time.

Simple gerund (active voice): V1+ing + other words (if only it is a phrase)
Simple gerund (passive voice): Being + past participle (v3)

Examples:

  • Teaching is my passion. (active voice)
  • I hate talking to him. (active voice)
  • I don’t believe in killing animals. (active voice)
  • We love being challenged. (passive gerund)
  • I don’t care about being liked by others. (passive gerund)
  • Being liked and loved by everyone does make you feel good. (passive gerund)
  • Are you still upset about not being invited to the party? (passive gerund)

A simple gerund usually refers to the present time, but it can also be used to refer to the past in a right context. In the last example, the gerund phrase is referring to an event in the past. But note that we use the perfect form of a gerund to refer to past actions.

Perfect gerund (passive form)

A perfect gerund refers to a past action. It can be both in the active voice and the passive voice.

Simple gerund (active voice): having + past participle (v3)
Simple gerund (passive voice): having + been + past participle (v3)

Examples:

  • I am not upset about having lost the job anymore. (active voice)
  • Having gone through the bad experiences makes me who I am today. (active voice)
  • The man denied having been beaten in the jail. (passive gerund)
  • I regret having been sent to the new office. (passive gerund)
  • He has admitted having been given steroids. (passive gerund)

Exercise!

Fill in the blanks with a passive gerund and share the answers in the comment section.

  1. I love _____. (kiss)
  2. I regret _____ this opportunity. (give)
  3. _____ by everyone is a great feeling. (love)
  4. She does not care about ____ for this. (arrest)
  5. I am scared of _____ for what I have done. (arrest)
  6. I appreciate _____ (correct).
  7. It seems you don’t appreciate _______ for the job. (promote)
  8. _____ of harassing her sexually still makes me feel terrible. (accuse)

We, now, know what a passive gerund is, how it looks like, and when to use it. Try the exercise given to practice what you have learnt in the article, and do share your question, query, or feedback in the comment section below! Please share the post with others to help them!

For one-on-one classes, contact me at englishwithashish@gmail.com.

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