Clearly there is a difference between the gerund form of the verb "read" and the noun "reading." Is the word-formation process of the latter different in that its -ing suffix is derivational?

  • 4
    Possible duplicate of Is the {-ing} of the gerund a verbal inflectional suffix?
    – user6726
    Sep 13, 2019 at 15:50
  • No, this involves conversion from an inflected form, i.e. changing a word's syntactic category without any concomitant change of form. The same applies to 'verb to adjective conversions', as in the formation of an adjective homonymous with a gerund-participle or past participle form of a verb, e.g. "entertaining", "amusing", "stunned", bored" and the like.
    – BillJ
    Sep 13, 2019 at 17:52
  • 1
    Yes. The noun "reading" is a derivational form, while the participle "reading" and gerund "reading" are inflectional forms.
    – Greg Lee
    Sep 13, 2019 at 20:23
  • How can it be derivational, when its shape is identical with the gerund-participial verb-form? This is about conversion -- not derivation where affixation creates a word of a different category.
    – BillJ
    Sep 16, 2019 at 12:39
  • Shapes of morphemes can be identical. For instance, the -er in longer /lɔŋɡər/ is an inflectional comparative suffix attached to the adjective long, while the -er in longer /lɔŋər/ is a derivational agentive suffix attached to the verb long. And the inflection suffixes for verb 3sgPr, noun Pl, and noun Poss are identical. It doesn't seem to bother English speakers, any more than the three German pronouns pronounced /zi:/ bother Germans.
    – jlawler
    Sep 20, 2019 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


There is no derivation or inflection. It is a conversion or also called zero derivation. A verb becomes a noun without affixation. Sometimes, the nominalisation is based on the bare form (e.g change), the past form (e.g chosen) or the imperfective form (e.g reading). So, there are many ways to transform a verb into a noun, depending on whether the referent is an action or not, (in/)animate, and so on.


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