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Verbal nouns

A verbal noun is a noun formed from a verb but acting as a noun; it can take the plural form, it can be modified by adjectives. In English, verbal nouns are usually formed by adding a suffix to the end of the verb. For example: 'Protect' is the base form of the verb, but you can make a noun from it by adding the suffix -ion (Protection).

Verbal nouns

Be careful to spell the new words correctly.
  • After some hesitation, he began to speak. (hesitate+tion=hesitation)
  • We finally reached a decision on the matter. (decide+sion=decision)
  • The proposal is still under discussion. (discuss+sion=discussion) (propose+al=proposal)
  • We made an emergency landing(land+ing=landing)
  • Their attempt ended in failure. (fail+ure=failure)
  • I made the payment by credit card. (pay+ment=payment)

In English, some nouns and verbs have the same form. Note that some words may differ in pronunciation. For example: When 'protest' is used as a noun, the stress falls on the first syllable. Where 'protest' is used as a verb, the stress falls on the second syllable.
PROtest is a noun.
proTEST is a verb.
  • They are offering a 10% discount on all leather goods. (noun)
  • The electrical goods have been heavily discounted. (verb)
  • Would you like a drink of tea? (noun)
  • What would you like to drink? (verb)
  • We welcomed his return to office. (noun)
  • I returned to London 5 years later. (verb)


Do not confuse a verbal noun with a gerund. Both gerunds and verbal nouns are directly derived from verbs. However, verbal nouns do not have any verbal properties. Gerunds have some properties of a verb, for example, they can take a direct object.
  • I enjoy playing cards. (gerund)
  • He delayed paying the gas bill. (gerund)
  • I recognized his writing on the envelope. (verbal noun)
  • The book has a happy ending(verbal noun)


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