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 everyone!
I have a question about "ing forms" after prepositions. Do we use "ing" after any preposition? Which sentence below is grammatically correct?
1)- I am too young to understand.
2)- I am too young for understanding.

Thanks a lot!

Hello acorreia,

Yes, any verb that comes after a preposition is put in the -ing form. Of the two sentences you ask about, 1 is correct. Many adjectives (like 'young') can be used in this way, i.e. Subject + BE + adjective + infinitive.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk!

Ok, I understood. So, there are some exceptions for these situations.
Thank you once again!

Best wishes,


In a sentence like: "He was busy doing his homework." What type of clause is "doing his homework" ?
Thanks in advance.

Hello Nonawyy,

This is an example of a participle clause, sometimes also called a participle phrase. We have a page on this construction which you can find here.



The LearnEnglish Team

‘Something flying in the sky hit him’
is ‘flying’ used as an adjective after a noun in this sentence?
Can I say ‘something was flying in the sky and hit him’

Hi libero,

In this sentence, 'flying' is a present participle used to make a reduced relative clause. As you suggest, it is a reduced form of 'Something that was flying in the sky hit him'. Good work!

You can see an explanation of this on our defining relative clauses page -- look for the last example sentence on the page, just above the exercise.

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,
Can I say that you are also using the reduced relative clause in your message above?

‘flying is a present participle used to make a reduced......’ Here ‘used’ = ‘that is used’

Hello libero,

Yes, that is correct. Well done!



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I would like to ask you about the use of prepositions at the end of the sentences. I have been taught that each and every preposition of phrasal or prepositional verbs should appear in the sentence, even at the end. Is that still correct, given that I have read some texts in which the sentences do not end with the required preposition.

Thank you