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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



HI! I would like to ask you a question on the possessive "whose" for introducing relatives clauses. At college, I was taught to use the possessive "whose" for animate entities and "which" for inanimate entities. However, I also know that "which" is also accepted to indicate possession of animate entities, is that correct? Or do you prefer to keep the distinction between them?

Thank you


The rule of whose for animate entities and which for inanimate is a good rule of thumb, but you are correct that which can be used in certain cases. This is actually a relict of how English used to be used several hundred years ago. Today it is very uncommon and generally considered a non-standard form, I would say. You can see which used in place of collective nouns describing people: the group (of people) which I saw or the class (of students) which I taught.

If you have any particular example in mind then we will be happy to comment on it, of course.



The LearnEnglish Team

Good morning,
I have a doubt regarding the use of the Saxon genitive in the following expression:
“Taiwanese colleague clients”: would it be right to say “Taiwanese colleagues’ clients” or would it be better to use the “of” form-Clients of our Taiwanese colleagues?
Thank you,

Hello SONIAL03,

I think both forms are possible:

our Taiwanese colleagues' clients

the clients of our Taiwanese colleagues

Which you choose is really a question of style. The second may be easier to understand and be less likely to be misunderstood but both are perfectly correct.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello dear brirtish council leraning English.
I need your help to learn "infinitive and gerund,i feel confused about them ,can you give me some advice that i find easy way to learn them...
Best regards Ali.

Hello Ali boroki,

The infinitive is a verb form which is used in a number of ways. You can read about them and see examples on this page and this page.

The gerund is a verb formed with -ing used as a noun in the sentence. You can read more about these on this page and on the page we are on here.


You can also use the search facility to look up 'infinitive' and 'gerund' to find relevant pages. If you have any questions about particular examples then we will be happy to explain, of course.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
in the following sentence does 'watching' act as a noun and 'soothing' as an adjective (soothing sunset) or should soothing be considered a part of the finite verb is?
Thus , 'watching' as nonfinite(gerund) and
'is soothing' as finite.
•Watching the sun set at the beach is soothing to eyes.
Thank you.

Hi amrita,

Yes, 'watching' is a gerund (a noun derived from a verb) and 'soothing' is an adjective. The structure of the sentence is a simple copula: 'X is Y'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir , in the following sentence , can you please tell me if 'hurt' and 'ill-fated' are both Non finite ( past participles ) ?
The hurt passengers of the ill-fated train were admitted to the nearby hospital .

Hello amrita_enakshi,

The words have the form of past participles but are functioning as adjectives in the sentence.



The LearnEnglish Team