A verbal noun or gerundial noun is a verb form that functions as a noun. An example of a verbal noun in English
is 'sacking' as in the sentence "The sacking of the city was an epochal event" (''sacking'' is a noun formed from the verb ''sack'').
Verbal nouns are morphologically related to non-finite verb forms, but they are not themselves non-finite verbs. Non-finite verb forms are forms such as gerund
s and participle
s in English
Some grammarians use the term "verbal noun" to cover verbal noun, gerund, and nominal
infinitive. Some may use the term "gerund" to cover both verbal noun and gerund. "Verbal noun" has often been treated as a synonym for "gerund". This article includes only gerundial nouns within the scope of "verbal nouns", excluding gerunds, nominal infinitives, and nouns formed from verbs through derivational processes.
Outside of English, the term "verbal noun" may be used for 1) the citation form of verbs such as the masdar
in Arabic and the verbal noun (''berfenw'') in Welsh
or 2) declinable verb forms in Mongolian that can serve as predicates, comparable to participle
s but with a larger area of syntactic use
Verbal or gerundial nouns, while being derived from verbs, behave grammatically entirely as nouns. For example, they do not take direct objects as verbs can, they may be preceded by the definite article, and they are modified by adjectives rather than adverbs.
They may also be used as count noun
s and pluralized. In English, verbal nouns are formed from verbs with the suffix ''-ing'', that is, they take the same form as the gerund. Examples of such uses are given below:
:: The killing of the president was an atrocious crime. (Verbal noun)
:: Killing the president was an atrocious crime. (Gerund)
:: The rapid erasing of the tape saved our bacon. (Verbal noun)
:: Rapidly erasing the tape saved our bacon. (Gerund)
Note how the undergoer of ''killing'' and ''erasing'' is specified in the form of a prepositional phrase
in the case of the verbal noun: ''of the president'' and ''of the tape''. This is because ''killing'' and ''erasing'' function as nouns in this sentence and as such cannot take an object directly; instead the words ''president'' and ''tape'' (respectively) must be made object of the preposition ''of''.
Verbs also may be nominalized
through derivational processes
, such as adding different suffixes, as in ''discovery'' from the verb ''discover'', or by simple conversion
, as with the noun ''love'' from the verb ''love''. The formation of such deverbal noun
s is not generally a productive
process, that is, it cannot be indiscriminately applied to form nouns from any verb (for example, there is no noun *''uncovery'' for the verb ''uncover''). When they exist, such deverbal nouns often tend to replace the regularly formed verbal noun (as ''discovery'' is usually used rather than ''discovering'', although the latter is still common as a gerund), or else a differentiation in meaning becomes established.
Other verb forms serving as nouns within the sentence include gerund
s and infinitive
s. However, these are excluded from the scope of verbal nouns at this article.
Category:Nouns by type