"Punându-mi mâinile în cap, am început să plâng."
Translation:Putting my hands on my head, I started to cry.
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Can someone please explain the difference between "punându" and "punând", and on the previous sentence, "făcându" and "făcând". Is the first one the gerund and the second one the participle? I am very confused and there don't seem to be any explanatory notes for this section yet.
As I understand it - and I am not a native speaker, but a learner like you - a 'u' is added when a pronoun is used or when the verb is reflexive. So, 'buying them' would be 'cumparandu-le' or 'cumparandu-i' and 'reading it' would be 'citindu-l' (e.g. newspaper) or 'citind-o' (e.g. book) and 'washing themselves' would be spalandu-se' and 'imagining' would be 'imaginandu-si'. The exception, as you see, is the feminine 'o', where no 'u' is required.
See page 169 of the following for formation of gerund rules: http://www.seelrc.org:8080/grammar/pdf/compgrammar_romanian.pdf