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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

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-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:

amusing
boring
disappointing
interesting
surprising
tiring
worrying
exciting
frightening
shocking
terrifying
annoying
-ing form as an adjective

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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

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-ing form as a noun or adjective 2

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Comments

Hello team,

You have a good, useful site here. But I think you need to expand on this section here. I'm a native English speaker and I think this must be one of the most difficult parts of English grammar.
For example, grammatically speaking, there's no such thing as "-ing verb form". It's either a gerund or a present participle. And to confuse matters even more, it can be a pure adjective or a pure noun.
For example:
"Shouting loudly is rude". (shouting here is a gerund, "shouting loudly" acting as a noun and the subject).
"I saw a man shouting at the store clerk" (shouting here is a present participle, acting as an adjective modifying "a man")
"Loud shouting is not good manners (shouting here is a pure noun, modified by an adjective, correct?)
"The shouting match lasted for half an hour". (shouting here is a pure adjective?)
And what about "it was a very exciting game". Is "exciting" a pure adjective here or a present participle? I was under the impression that if we take the present participle of many/most verbs, they become an adjective by themselves (i.e. "to excite"-->"exciting").

Thank you in advance for any feedback.

Hello sunsetlover,

Thanks for your comment. We are in the process of revising the English grammar section and hope to be able to publish the new version in the next few months. So please keep your eye out for this update.

This section, as well as the revised version we are working on, were written to serve as a general reference on what its writer (Dave Willis) considered to be the most essential English grammar for learners. It is not intended to be comprehensive and, as you've noted, doesn't always use technical terms which he did not consider essential to learning to use the language (as opposed to describing it or parsing it for more specialist use).

As for your questions, we don't normally go into this level of detail but I'll tell you what I think. I agree with your first three statements. As for the fourth, I'm honestly not sure, though I'd probably say that it's a gerund being used adjectivally, i.e. as a sort of noun + noun combination with 'match'. Finally, I'd say 'exciting' is a pure adjective in this case.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I didn't get reply for this one. Please respond to this query. Thanking you in advance.
'Reasonably good research exists about the muslim bourgeoisie anchoring the league.'
'Surely, it was not the first time the state has been brought to its knees by rampaging zealots.'

Sir, why was comma not used after 'reasonably', while it was used after 'surely'? Does it make any difference if we put or don't put comma after these adverbs? Does the meaning change if we remove the comma after 'surely'? Sir, please enlighten us about this.

Hello ali shah,

In these sentences, 'surely' is a sentence adverb, i.e. an adverbial that expresses the speaker's attitude to or view of what is said. Commas are used after sentence adverbs when they are in initial position, as is the case here.

'Reasonably' is not a sentence adverb here (nor is it commonly used as one). Here it modifies the adjective 'good'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
As long as I know "go running" is described as an activity.
But in the sentence "I went running towards him" "running" modifies the verb "went".Because that is the answer of "how" question.

Am I okay?

Thank you.

Hello Goktug123,

Grammarians differ on whether to classify the verb-ing form after 'go' as a participle (modifying the verb) or a gerund (as the object of the verb). There are good arguments on both sides.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Peter,thanks for response.
Is the meaning same for both cases?
Thank you.

Hello Goktung123,

The question is not really one of meaning but of terminology. In your example I would say that 'running' is clearly a participle, as you say, and gives us information about the verb. In examples like 'go swimming', 'go jogging' and so on, there is some discussion over whether to best call the -ing form a gerund or a participle, but there is no disagreement on the meaning in either case.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

'Reasonably good research exists about the muslim bourgeoisie abchoring the league.'
'Surely, it was not the first time the state has been brought to its knees by rampaging zealots.'

Sir, why was comma not used after 'reasonably', while it was used after 'surely'? Does it make any difference if we put or don't put comma after these adverbs? Does the meaning change if we remove the comma after 'surely'? Sir, please enlighten us about this.

1."In the midterm election process, the Democrats pursued a more coherent and strategic campaign, focusing on ‘table’ issues, such as healthcare, and largely avoiding the fractious debates unleashed by Trump on immigration, race and religion."
Sir, which structure or grammar rule do these -ing verbs( focusing, avoiding) follow? can we use 'focused', 'avoided' instead of the -ing form of words? Does that change meaning if use -ed forms?I'm baffled

2.'With the population having swollen to 207m and expected to increase to 395m by 2047, the demand for clean water and proper sanitation will keep rising. '

3.'Surely, the policy of appeasement does not seem to be working as the situation remains volatile with the Hamass not backing down.'

Similarly, which structure or grammar rule does the first clause(starting with 'with') in 2 and the last part phrase(with the Hamass not backing down) in the 3 follow?

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