I know gerunds are frowned upon, but I’ve never understood why. They’re useful. They change the rhythm and add variety instead of having all the sentences sound the same. Turning the corner, she spotted the dog. "As" isn't warmly received either, which is another way you could write it: As she turned the corner, she spotted the dog. Reversing it is awkward: She spotted the dog when she turned the corner . Then there’s She turned the corner and spotted the dog. That’s fine, but how many of those sentences in a row do you want to read? If you avoid them, why do you do it?
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I’ve heard gerunds are considered weaker, but that’s not much of an explanation. My theory is that gerunds are a bit scary and people are unsure about their use. It’s those dangling participles: Running down the street, the rock tripped her. No, the rock wasn’t running down the street. The gerund phrase must modify the subject of the main clause. Running down the street, she tripped over a rock. Not great writing, but it’s correct. She was running; the rock was stationary, at least until she tripped over it. Or maybe it’s the possessives sometimes needed with gerunds. But that’s another blog for another day.
Using --ing in progressive verbs is a different matter. In those cases, it depends on the context. He was crossing the street when the car hit him. The sentence has a different meaning if you say He crossed the street when the car hit him.
A gerund is a participle used as a noun. It can be the subject of a verb: Crying over spilled milk won’t put it back in the glass. Or Jogging is hard on the knees. A participle is when the verb form is used as a modifier: The burning house lit up the night sky. Or it can be progressive, a part of a verb phrase: The thief is running from the police.
I like gerunds and will continue using them until I find a good reason to stop. Do you have one? I’d really, really like to know what it is.