Welcome to
ESL Printables, the website where English Language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc.
Our collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions.





ESL Forum:

Techniques and methods in Language Teaching

Games, activities and teaching ideas

Grammar and Linguistics

Teaching material

Concerning worksheets

Concerning powerpoints

Concerning online exercises

Make suggestions, report errors

Ask for help

Message board


ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Aaah! Gerunds versus Participles! I love my girlfriend cooking....I love my girlfriend when she cooks, I love it when my girlfriend cooks/cooking!....    

Aaah! Gerunds versus Participles! I love my girlfriend cooking....I love my girlfriend when she cooks, I love it when my girlfriend cooks/cooking!....

United Kingdom

Aaah! Gerunds versus Participles! I love my girlfriend cooking....I love my girlfriend when she cooks, I love it when my girlfriend cooks/cooking!....

So, after trying to looking in a grammar book, asking my colleagues, who are native speakers like myself, and some intensive googling, I �m still none the wiser, and have heard many a conflicting suggestion...

I am currently teaching the empty subject/object It.

Such as �I love IT when my girlfriend cooks
             I hate it when foxes bark all night....

To show my students how they could convert this from another structure, I said....
I love my girlfriend cooking
I hate foxes barking all night

One of my students asked �can we say �I hate it when foxes barking all night �
I said, no, and after some deliberating, explained it as barking being a gerund, where as when foxes bark all night, is a clause, and therefore needs a verb, here in the simple present, and cannot have a verbal noun.
Sure, foxes barking, can be a gerund, because foxes is plural we can interpret it as the genitive - foxes � barking.

BUT, what about - I love my girlfriend cooking....Is �cooking �, a gerund, or a participle?
One teacher said it might be a reduced relative clause, i.e I love my girlfriend (who is) cooking .... but to me that isn �t right, because he loves the situation of his girlfriend cooking, not his girlfriend, who, by the way, is cooking....

It will take a true grammarian to answer this one! But I would appreciate the answers from anyway who can contribute to my hopeless case!!!!

13 May 2009      


Okay.... let �s see if I can make sense of this...

I enjoy IT when my sister sings... IT refers to the situation of her singing SO we would say:
I enjoy my sister singing... means you enjoy listening to your sister singing... ALSO if you notice it is a gerund .. why? Because it �s following the rule "love, like, hate, enjoy... + ing"


You love IT when your girlfriend cooks - IS the same idea. IT refers to the situation.

You love your girlfriend cooking... means you love the situation .....

ALTHOUGH to be quite honest you kind of confused yourself picking "love" instead of "enjoy" or even "hate" which would have made the example clearer... 

13 May 2009     

United Kingdom

Thankyou Zora,

The question isn �t so much what IT refers to, as it is for sure an Empty subject - referring to the situation - I am not disputing that. It was more what was thrown up as a biproduct, as it were, of that lesson.
The question is more - whether the I love my sister singing/I hate foxes barking/I love my girlfriend cooking - If this means the same as I love it when my sister sings, why can �t we say, I love it when my sister singing....
I enjoy my sister singing, is ungrammatical, and in a way this may answer my question - as therefore I love my sister singing (different from, I love my sister �s singing, where singing is definitely a gerund), might have to be a reduced relative clause. However, one colleague pointed out that we must look at �my sister singing/foxes barking/girlfriend cooking � as the sum of its parts, rather than the parts separately.

Hmm, Any clues?

13 May 2009     

Carla Horne
United States

I love what? The answer is my sister �s singing, which is a gerund phrase acting like a direct object.

There is no reason to write "I love it when my sister sings." Just write, "I love my sister �s singing." English should not be too wordy. Communication needs to be efficient; unless, you are trying to emphasize an issue.

I hope this helps.


13 May 2009     


You can �t say "I love my sister when she singing" because "when" breaks up the sentence or connects it. It �s a connector and joins two separate sentences or ideas.

The sentence in question has to have 2 verbs... one is already in the first part. "I love my sister" and in the second part there is none.. "she singing..." does not have a main verb only a gerund which technically needs a verb to rely on... SO you need to add "is" to the second part of the sentence...

13 May 2009