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June 3, 1968


Author Affiliations

From the Scientific Publications Division, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1968;204(10):879-880. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140230037009

Repeatedly in this series we have emphasized the importance of verbs—"action words." Most commonly they exert a declarative function, to serve as "predicate." That is, in a clause (whether independent or dependent), the verb asserts some action or state relative to the subject. "He ran" is a sentence in which "he" is the subject, "ran" the predicate. Or, "After he ran, he rested." "Ran" is the predicate of the dependent clause, "rested" of the independent clause.

However, verbs have many forms and many functions. Forms which we designate as "verbals"—infinitives and gerunds and gerundives—serve functions that are not predicates. For example, "After exercising, he decided to rest." "Exercising" is a participial form used as a noun, the object of the preposition "after." Participial forms used as nouns are called "gerunds." In this same sentence, "to rest" is an infinitive, also functioning as a noun, the object of "decided."

If the