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'-ing' forms


Level: beginner

We can use the -ing form of a verb:

I love swimming.
Swimming is very good for your health.
You can get fit by swimming regularly.

The main problem today is rising prices.
That programme was really boring.
He saw a woman lying on the floor.

-ing forms as nouns

-ing nouns are nearly always uncount nouns. They can be used:

  • as the subject of a verb:

Learning English is not easy.

  • as the object of a verb:

We enjoy learning English.

Common verbs followed by an -ing object are:

admit like hate start avoid
suggest enjoy dislike begin finish
  • as the object of a preposition :

Some people are not interested in learning English.

-ing form as a noun


-ing forms as adjectives

The -ing adjective can come:

  • in front of a noun:

I read an interesting article in the newspaper today.
We saw a really exciting match on Sunday.

Your new book sounds very interesting.
The children can be really annoying.

  • after a noun:

Who is that man standing over there?
The boy talking to Angela is her younger brother

  • especially after verbs of the senses like see, watch, hear, smell, etc.:

I heard someone playing the piano.
I can smell something burning.

The commonest -ing adjectives are:

-ing form as an adjective


Patterns with -ing forms

Because an -ing noun or adjective is formed from a verb, it can have any of the patterns which follow a verb. For example:

  • it can have an object:

I like playing tennis.
I saw a dog chasing a cat.

  • it can be followed by a clause:

I heard someone saying that he saw you.

-ing form as a noun or adjective 1


-ing form as a noun or adjective 2



Hello Jonathan

In this case, 'laughing' is a present participle. It is part of the present continuous verb 'you are laughing', which in a question is 'are you laughing'.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team


Would you please clarify the difference and the reason for use in English of the below verbals:
1. His killing the lion is a brave deed.
2. The frequent killings of lions by him do not seem so brave.

Maybe my examples are not good enough, but, anyway, I would like to understand the overall idea to use verbal nouns with ing in English, though, as it seems to me, gerund is quite helpful?

All the best,

Hello Oleg

It's difficult to give good advice about when or when not to use a gerund, as there are so many possibilities, but I'd say that in general it's more common in more formal or neutral situations. It's not exactly formal, but one common feature of more formal language in English is the use of nouns for verbs.

Your two sentences are both fine, though the structure in the first one (with 'his' instead of 'by him') is more natural and the one I would recommend you use if you do use these structures.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot, Kirk.

Could you tell me the difference between these two sentences
1. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo.
2. Amelia Eahart became the first woman flying solo.

From the sentence, which one is the more appropriate, using to fly or flying?

Thank you.

Hi Risa warysha,

The correct form here is 'to fly'.

We can use verb-ing in this kind of sentence to explain how a person achieved something. For example:

John earned a lot of money acting in science-fiction films.

Here, 'acting in science fiction films' explains how John earned a lot of money.


Your second sentence would mean that flying solo was how Amelia Earhart became the first woman, which obviously does not make sense. There were a lof women before Amelia Earhart!


You can read more about this structure on this page:

Participle clauses



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much,sir

In the sentence "he started practising ahimsa" .Here we know that ahimsa is a noun.Please clarify whether practising is noun or adjective?

Hello Surigi Jhansee
In this case, 'practising' is a gerund, i.e. the noun form of the verb 'practise'. Since the gerund is a kind of verb form, it can have an object (here, it is 'ahimsa').
It might be useful to point out that in British English, 'practise' is a verb and 'practice' is a noun. In American English, both forms are spelled with a 'c', i.e. 'practice' is the spelling for both verbs and nouns.
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team

I Learnt That Verbal Adjectives Make Use Of The Past Participle Or Present Participle Of A Verb, In Sentences. When Should Know When To Use The Present Or Past Participle In Sentences. For Example:
(1) Her Crying Attitude Appauls Me.
Why Not The Past Participle "Cried".

(2) To Live In The Days Of Fallen Heroes Are Unbearable.
Why Not The Present Participle "Falling".

(Though Out Of Context, Am I Supposed To Put A Period After A Quotation Mark?)