In “Nobody was surprised at John being absent”, is “being” a present participle modifying “John” or a gerund whose subject is “John”?

Some time ago I learned the difference between a present participle and a gerund, so today I decided to pass any online test to make sure I understand it. I passed it having made only one mistake, which asked the difference between the two in this sentence: Nobody was surprised at John being absent. One … Read more

What is the grammatical role of *your* in “… by your being …” phrases?

While writing a sentence the other day, it struck me that the following phrase has an odd feel to it that I cannot explain: Everyone will benefit by your being well cared for. I kept wanting to use you’re but I knew that wasn’t right yet somehow the word your in this context feels sort-of … Read more

Using gerund: “applying” or “on applying”?

In a mathematical paper my co-author wrote: “On applying s to the coefficients of the polynomials defining our variety X, we obtain a new variety sX”. The anonymous referee suggested a correction: “Applying s to the coefficients …”, without On. Which version is better? We want to say that after we apply s to X, … Read more

What is the word for a past-tense verb used like a gerund?

In a comment on this answer to a similar question, the user Kris identifies the concept of “a member of a class to which gerunds belong but itself [is] not a gerund.” Is there a word for such a thing? For example, the inverse of “the taunting boy” is “the taunted girl“. I believe the … Read more