G is for Gulls

Larus delawarensis
These Ring-billed Gulls are gathering on the shore of Lake Ontario.

G is for gerunds

A gerund is a verb that functions as a noun or adjective. It has the suffix, —ing.

a gathering of gulls

the gathering gulls

a gathering of grinning gulls

Not all words ending in —ing are gerunds.

ceiling, evening


G is for gender

Gender, in English, classifies many nouns as feminine, masculine, or neuter. Unlike many other languages, English does not change the preceding article to give every noun a gender. French and Spanish, for example, distinguish a gender for every singular noun.

Feminine nouns

Nouns ending in —ess or [rarely] —ex are feminine, but are falling out of use.

cow, queen, woman

authoress, hostess

Masculine nouns

bull, king, boyfriend

Neuter nouns for plurals

cattle, monarchs, people

French nouns

la vache, la reine, la femme

Spanish nouns

el toro, el rey, el hombre

 One problem in English is the lack of a neuter word for pronouns, forcing the awkward “they” to express the even more awkward “he or she” in sentences that are meant to be inclusive. Traditionally, the pronoun he represents “he or she”, and may still be used.

When a child begins to use grownup words, he or she [they] may stumble on the pronunciation.



  1. Look for gerunds in a book or the newspaper. Identify whether they are acting as adjectives or nouns.
  2. Rewrite the sentences using verbs instead of gerunds.
  3. Take a sentence apart and identify all the parts of speech that you can.


G is for Glacial Erratic

Signs of glaciers.
This large boulder was dropped in place by an ancient glacier, which carried it from afar.

G is for genus

Living things are given a scientific name consisting of two names, a genus name and a species name (called a binomial), from Latin or Latinized Greek. These two names together are always placed in italics. Only the genus name is capitalized. Common names may be capitalized, or not.

Acer ginnala (Siberian maple)

Curcurbita pepo (gourd)

Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)

Gavia immer (Common Loon)

Grus canadensis (Sandhill Crane)

When you see a list of species, such as these maples, only the first mention of the genus name is written in full.

Acer rubrum, A. saccharum, A. spicatum


  1. Using a field guide or an online search, identify the trees and birds you see around you during the day. Write out their common names and binomials, accurately.

Special reading assignment

  1. Glacial erratics are rocks, often large boulders with a rounded shape, carried and dropped in unusual places by a glacier.


G is for Goatsbeard

Tragopogon sp.
Reminiscent of a giant dandelion, goatsbeard grows up to three feet tall.

The sounds of G

Hard G sound

game, get, give, ghee, go, gut, guide

Soft G sound

gene, generate, George, giant, ginger, gyre

Silent G 

G is silent in the gerund ending, —ing,

making, paying, walking

when combined with an n (—gn—) or similarly, an m,

assign, foreign, sign, gnat, gnu


and when combined with an h (—gh—). See exceptions below.

flight, nigh, night, right, slough (meaning wetland), weigh


Letter combinations

dg— makes a soft G sound.

edge, fidgety, gadget, hedge, judge

ge— makes a soft G sound, similar to J.

gene and jean sound the same

rage, rag

gh— may have different sounds, depending upon the word, or it may be silent (but not a soft G sound).

eight, slough (pronounced slew, meaning a wetland), through

rough, slough (pronounced sluff, meaning to shed one’s skin)

laugh (pronounced laff)

ghee, gherkin (the gh here makes a hard G sound)

gi— may be a soft G sound, similar to J.




gibbon, gild, gingham, give, log-in

gng is silent when followed by an n.

gnaw, gnome, Gnostic, gnu

ing, ung make a nasal sound with a silent g.

king, fling

sung, young


  1. Find a text in a newspaper or online. List the words containing the letter G. How do you pronounce them? Make your own sentences with these G words.

Special reading assignment

  1. The gentle gunner gave the growling dog a good gob of gristle.
  2. George begrudged Guy his ill-gotten gains.