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What are verbals?

A verbal is a noun, an adjective, or an adverb created from a verb. Like verbs, verbals convey action, express a state of being, and have objects.

An object completes the verb's or verbal's meaning. Consider this example:

The actress wore a beautiful Valentino gown.

"A beautiful Valentino gown" describes what the actress wore.

Noun Verbals Are Called Gerunds

Gerunds are verbs that end in –ing and act as nouns.

Use in a Sentence

Attaining a high score on the SAT can be difficult for some students.

Attaining is the gerund, and a high score is its object.

Adjective Verbals Are Called Participles

Participles are verbs that usually end in -ing or -ed and act as adjectives, thus they modify (describe) nouns and pronouns.

Present participles end in –ing. And past participles may end in -d, -ed, -en, -n, -ne, or –t.

Use in Sentences

The lying scoundrel left town under a cloud of suspicion.

Broken promises can ruin relationships.


Infinitives, which consist of the word “to” plus a verb, function as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns.

Use in Sentences

As a noun: To betray her confidence would be a grave mistake.

As an adjective: He did not have the courage to leave.

As an adverb: Maddie tried to forgive her.


Purdue OWL, Gerunds, http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/01/.

Purdue OWL, Infinitives, http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/03/.

Purdue OWL, Participles, http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/02/.

The Writing Centre: Hyper Grammar, Verbals, http://www.writingcentre.uottawa.ca/hypergrammar/verbals.html.

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