Verbal Nouns

What Are Verbal Nouns? (with Examples)

homeglossaryVerbal Nouns
A verbal noun is a noun that has no verb-like properties despite being derived from a verb. This means that a verbal noun can be modified by adjectives, be pluralized (if the sense allows), and be followed by a prepositional phrase.

A verbal noun is different from a gerund. A gerund is a noun that, having derived from a verb, retains a few verb-like properties. For example, a gerund can be modified by an adverb and can take a direct object.

Examples of Verbal Nouns

Here is another example of a verbal noun (shaded):
  • This bad drawing of a dog is not acceptable for your project.
  • (This is a verbal noun. It is acting just like a noun. Just like any noun could have, it has a determiner (This) and an adjective (bad), and it is followed by a prepositional phrase (of a dog).)
Compare the example above to this example of a gerund:
  • Badly drawing a dog is not acceptable for your project.
  • (This is a gerund. It is functioning as a noun, but it has two notable verb-like properties. Just like any verb could have, it has an adverb (badly) and a direct object (a dog).)
In English, verbal nouns are formed in a number of ways (usually by adding a suffix to the base form of the verb). For example:
VerbVerbal NounExample in a Sentence
To buildbuilding It was a lovely building .
The money will fund the building of a bridge.
To arrivearrivalTheir arrival has been delayed.
To repeatrepetitionI do not want another repetition of yesterday.
To decidedecisionThat was an awful decision by the referee.
To attackattackHe mounted a surprise attack with the Romans.
(Note: With some verbs, the verbal noun is identical to the base form of the verb.)

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