We can use the -ing form of the verb:

• as a noun:

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

-ing nouns are nearly always uncount nouns

  • as an adjective:

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

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

  • ... an object:

I like playing tennis.
Can you imagine living on the moon?

  • ... or an adverbial:

You can earn a lot of money by working hard.
There were several people waiting for the bus.

  • ... or a clause:

I heard someone saying that.

The -ing noun 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.

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.

 The commonest –ing adjectives used in front of the noun are


amusing interesting worrying shocking disappointing
boring surprising  exciting terrifying frightening
tiring annoying      


  • after a noun:

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

  • and especially after verbs like see, watch, hear, smell etc.

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





Hello teacher,

Could you please help me understand the grammar in the following sentences?
1. Mary has had her father solve her a thorny problem.
2. My father has just had the painter paint the door green.
The structure : S+HAS/HAVE had + O + V/ V(participle). What do we call it in English?
Thank you for your kindness.

Hello Loi Duong,

This is a causative use of the verb 'have'. You can 'have somebody do something' or 'have something done'. You can see an explanation of this on this BBC Grammar Challenge page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there!

I've got a question about the structure of "want". I don't know which category it fits into best, so I'm posting it in the "-ing forms" category.

I know it's correct to say: "I don't want you coming home so late."
However, is it also correct to say: "I don't want your coming home so late."?

Thank you very much for your time!

Hello kelly,

'I don't want you to come home so late' is also correct, and in fact much more common than the first sentence you mention. I can't think of a time when the sentence you ask about (with 'your') would be used, but if you have a particular context in mind, feel free to tell us about it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your answer.
I was just wondering about that, considering that the subject of the gerund can be expressed in both ways, eg.
I object to him smoking at home.
I object to his smoking at home.

I was wondering whether this can be also applied to the syntax of "want + gerund".
Thanks again for your time!
Best Wishes,

Kelly S.

Hello Kelly,

It's great that you're trying to make sense of these different forms, as they are often indeed used in many different ways.

'I don't want your coming home so late' is not grammatically correct – 'I don't want you to come home so late' is what I'd recommend in its place – but actually now that I look at this again, it's occurred to me that if you change 'your coming home so late' into the subject of a subsequent infinitive, it is possible to use a possessive determiner like 'your'. For example, 'I don't want your coming home so late to affect our relationship' is a correct sentence.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much Kirk!
I appreciate it!

Best regards,

Hello. Could you please tell me if the following sentences are correct?

1. I can’t stand her making all that noises!
2. I could not imagine him doing volunteerism.
(Context: I am humming and I want to know if that bothers the other person)
3. Do you mind me humming?

Thank you so much.

Hello Daniel H,

Except for 'noises', which should be 'noise', 1 is correct. 2 is grammatically correct, but 'do' doesn't usually collocate with 'volunteerism', which makes the sentence sound a bit odd. I'd suggest perhaps '... him doing volunteer work' as another way of saying it. 3 is correct – good work!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

is wrong to say '' she's almost starting a course that it'll help to preparing herself to the test on the end of the year ?