12.3 - More about gerunds

On page 12.2 you were introduced to the present gerund (verbal adverb), which is the form of the verb ending in -чи and is a rough equivalent of "while/when doing" in English. It is used when the subject of the sentence performs two actions simultaneously, and can replace constructions beginning with "when/as X is/was doing".

The present gerund is used in both spoken and written Ukrainian, for example:

Співають ідучи дівчата
The girls sing as they walk (while walking)
   from a poem by Taras Shevchenko
Я пла́чу, слухаючи блюз
I cry when I listen (while listening) to the blues
   from a contemporary poem

Some gerunds are used so frequently that they have entered the vocabulary as adverbs in their own right, as, for example:

лежачи lying down
сидячи sitting down / seated
стоячи standing, on one's feet

Reflexive verbs can also occur as gerunds, and are formed in the same way as non-reflexive ones. The particle ‑чи is added to the stem of the third person singular, then the reflexive particle (in its shortened form ‑сь) is added to the end of the gerund, for example:

...одягаючись, я дивлюсь у дзеркало
As I get dressed (while getting dressed), I look in the mirror
   from a novel by Volodymyr Vynnychenko
Він пише сміливо, не боячись нікого
He writes boldly, fearing no-one
   from a poem by Volodymyr Samiylenko

As can be seen from the last example, gerunds can also occur in a negative sentence. Some can be regarded as set phrases or adverbs in their own right as, for example:

незважаючи (на) regardless (of), notwithstanding
нехотячи * unintentionally, without intending to

* from the verb «хотіти», «хотячи» is the only exception to the rule of present gerund formation.

For further practise with the gerund, go to Exercise 12.3A.

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© 2007 Marta Jenkala