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Phantom nuns and gerund(ive)s

Posted by R. Berg on August 17, 2002

In Reply to: Phantom nuns and gerund(ive)s posted by TheFallen on August 17, 2002

: This earlier post from Bruce got me thinking...

: *snip*

: "I very much appreciate you taking the trouble to look up my request"

: Shouldn't it be "YOUR taking the trouble.."?
: Or is this a case of the ghosts of the Sisters of Notre Dame circa 1959 cracking my knuckles with their crosses for mis-diagraming a sentence?

: *snip end*

: It should of course strictly be "your taking", as Bruce knows, because "taking" is effectively a noun in this phrase - a thing which I think either makes it a gerund or a gerundive. However I'm damned if I know the difference between the two - I never understood it in Latin, and I'm even unsure if either or both parts of speech actually exist in English. Can anyone enlighten me without resorting to ordering me to a phantom nunnery?

Here I am (and whom were you expecting?). Having gone to secular schools, I'd never heard of gerundives. I looked them up in Fowler's "Modern English Usage," s.v. "gerund":

Gerund, gerundive. The second word is of importance only with regard to the languages that possess the thing, of which English does not happen to be one. But since its occasional use for the other word "gerund," which IS of importance in English grammar, may cause confusion, the difference between the Latin gerund and gerundive should be explained. The gerund is a noun suplying a verb's infinitive or noun-form with cases; thus 'amare" to love has the gerund "amandi" of loving, "amando" by loving, "amandum" the act of loving; correspondingly the word "loving" as a noun (but not as an adjective) is the gerund in English, though it is of the same form as the participle. From the same stem as "amandi" etc. is formed in Latin an adjective "amandus" lovable, and this in Latin grammar is named the gerundive as being formed from the gerund. The English adjectives formed in "-ble" from verbs, like "lovable," might well enough be called gerundives from their similarity in sense to the Latin gerundive; but they are not in practice so called, and the word "gerundive" has accordingly no proper function in English grammar.