Saturday, June 21, 2008

grammar clarification: puzzling

I wanted to clarify the grammar rules applied in the "puzzling" post. I, acting as a sort of Shakespeare (who made up hundreds of new words in the English language), made a sort of made-up word out of a very standard word: puzzle.

Puzzle functions as both a noun and a verb in English:

Puzzle (as a noun) means a thing that tests one's ingenuity (such as the puzzle I was making on the floor).

Puzzle (as a verb) means to confuse or complicate (such as "I am puzzled by this puzzle").

In my post, however, I referred to "puzzling" in an alternate noun form of the standard word to refer to the sport of making a puzzle. This makes "puzzling" a noun; however, a few comments have suggested it may be a gerund...which is true!

Even though "puzzling" (the noun I made up) was made from "puzzle" (the noun), I used a sort of hidden step in between. Think of it this way: I first made "puzzle" a verb (as in "I like to puzzle" which means "I like to make puzzles"). Having completed the hidden step of making "puzzle" a verb of my own definition, I attached the -ing to make it a gerund. (A gerund is a verb ending in -ing that acts as a noun.) Hence, I like to participate in puzzling. I could also say, "Puzzling is a great sport."

All of this is not to be confused with "puzzling" being used as an adjective (which is the standard use of the word in current English usage). And so, in appropriate (and standard) fashion, I hope this explanation has not been puzzling (adjective) and has enlightened the readers as to the sport of puzzling (noun--gerund).

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Thank you for clarifying. Your explanation was enlightening and not puzzling at all.