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18.1.1 the gerundio as an adverbial of manner and as adjectives (as adjectives they can be used only in Portuguese)
Perhaps not only from a theoretical point of view it is usefull to see that what is called gerundio in roman languages has nothing to do with the English gerund. What is called gerundio in roman languages resembles more to the present participle in English. Both forms, the gerund and the present particple are -ing forms, but they are used in completely different contexts. The gerundio in roman languages is never a verbal noun and can't be used as a verbal noun.
1) The gerund is a verbal noun: Speaking several language is sometimes an advantage.
2) The present participle is an adverbial: Laughing she left the room.
In case 1) the gerund speaking is the subject of the sentence. The gerund can have the syntactical function of a noun, can be subject (Laughing is good), object (I hate his laughing) and prepositional object (It's all about her laughing). The gerundio in roman languages can never have this syntactical function. Only the infinitive can have the syntactical function of a noun in roman languages. It is usefull to see that the -ing forms, coming, going, listening etc. can be present participles and gerunds and the gerundio in roman languages corresponds to the English present participle and not to the English gerund. The present participle can be adverb / adverbial and adjective, but cannot have the syntactical function of a noun. The syntactical function of the English gerund resembles more to the Portuguese infinitivo. The infinitivo can indeed have the syntactical function of a noun.
The present participle, that corresponds to the gerundio in roman languages, can be adverb / adverbial and adjective in Portuguese. (The use of an adjective is only possible in Portuguese. In other roman languages that doesn't work in general.) We will rediscuss these issue in 18.1.4 .
present participle as an adverb
Swimming they crossed the lake.
Rowing they reached the other shore.
Dancing they walked down the street.
present participle as adjective
The laughing woman confused him.
The crying children made him feel sad.
The singing people celebrated the revolution.
However this only works if the verb doesn't require a direct object. If the verb does require a direct object the present participle used as an adverb / adverbial or adjective has to have a direct object as well.
wrong: Buying they walked through the shopping mall.
wrong : Repairing they were lying under the car.
wrong: He saw a building man.
wrong : On the market were selling men.
This works the same way in Portuguese.
der gerundio als Adverb
Chorando, ele foi embora e não se despediu dos amigos.*
Crying she went away without saying good bye.
A florista recebeu sorrindo a gorjeta do cliente.
Smiling the flower girl took the tip of the customer..
Maria partiu chorando.
Crying Maria went away.
A menina, chorando, devolveu a boneca.*
Crying the girl gave the puppet back.
* There is no need to understand the use of the comma in this case, actually there is a rule. If the gerundio is at the beginning of a sentence, it is separated by a comma. Equally the present participle is separated if it is positionned between the subject and the verb. It is quite unusual, in other languages, that the presente participle is separates by a comma, because it has a very close relationship to the verb / noun it refers to. Perhaps the fact that the flow of speech is interrupted is decisive here.
The use of the gerundio in Portuguese as an adverb and an adjective.
the gerundio as an adjective
In the street children were selling sweets.
Men do stupid things.
It would be helpful for the american economy if more women would work.
There are more and more women writing about women.
Used as an adverb / adverbial the present participle / gerundio can substitute different kinds of subordinate clauses, see 18.1.5. This is possible in a lot of languages.
Cleaning the house he saw the thieves breaking into the house.
=> While he was cleaning the house, he saw the thieves breaking into the house.
Limpiando las ventanas, vió como los ladrones entraron en la casa.
Limpando as janelas, viu os ladrões entrando na casa.
In Portuguese, in opposite to Spanish where that is, at least if we follow the Real Academia Española, not possible, a relative clause can be substituted by gerundio. This is actually a little bit strange, because the relative clause, the relative pronoun if we want to be more precise, has to agree in gender and number with the noun it refers too. The gerundio however can't agree with nothing, because it is invariable. For the same reason he can't be used, if we follow the Real Academia Española as an adjective, because an adjective has to agree as well with the noun it refers to.
In the following sentences the gerundio refers without any doubt to a noun, is therefore an adjective and therefore a shortened relative clause. Correndo refers to crianças and saindo to Maria. Crianças and Maria are the subjects of the gerundio. From a purely grammatical point of view there is no other interpretation possible. However if we translate the sentences to English, perhaps we would translate them with a temporal clause or an if-clause.
Gosto de crianças correndo pela casa.
Il like the children who are runnig around the house.
Il like the children runnig around the house.
(I like it, when the children are running around the house.)
(I like it, if the children are running around the house.)
Encontrei Maria, saindo de férias.
I met Maria who left on holidays.
I met Maria at the moment when she left on holidays.
For the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive relative clause see chapter 10.
From a purely grammatical point of view a gerundio can substitute a relative clause, although that is not always the best solution. By "Il like the children who are runnig around the house" we can understand as well that he only likes the children who are running around the house. A relative clause assigns a characteristic to the noun it refers to and sometimes that is not really what we want to say.