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.

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Thanks a lot, Kirk!

Hi,
Can you help me admin please !
He can't be having lunch .Is this sentence correct if not what is wrong here?

Thanks in advance.

Hello BillerrrThome,

The sentence is grammatically correct but I can't say whether it is used correctly without knowing the context. We would say 'He can't be having lunch' when we cannot believe that he is (in the middle of) eating lunch as we speak. For example, we might say this when the person should be doing something else and we are surprise that he has chosen to have lunch instead, or when something makes lunch very unlikely such as it being too early in the day.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there: I want to know whether the following sentence is correct: The simultaneous practice of two languages helps them to nurture their talents making them competent and confident personally.

My one more question is: what is/are the rules of using verb-ing (i.e. here 'making') in English?

Hello zahid51,

Yes, it is correct, but I'm afraid -ing forms are used in so many different ways I cannot explain them all. In this case, the clause beginning with 'making' is an adverbial participle clause. You can read more about them on the page I linked to as well as this BBC page. If you have a more specific question about them, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir
We lernt that the verb after (to) must be in base form, but in the following sentence, the verb after (to) is in -ing form:
"We look forward to meeting him tomorrow."

Could you help me sir!
Thank you in advance

Hello Yasser Azizi,

In the phrase 'look forward to', 'to' is a preposition, not part of an infinitive. Verbs after prepositions always go in the -ing form.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Krik,

Have a great day!
Thanks for your explanation. Can I ask how should we judge 'to' is a preposition? Becasue 'forward' is adv.?

Kind regards!
John

Hello John,

The preposition is not related to the fact that there is an adverb. I'm afraid there are only really two ways to know when to is a preposition. The first is to memorise which prepositions follow certain words. We have some pages on these topics:

verbs & prepositions

adjectives & prepositions

 

The other way to identify when to is a preposition is to use the structure of the sentence to help you. Prepositions require objects so they are followed by a form which can act as an object - typically a noun or noun phrase, an -ing form or a clause - rather than a base verb as in the to-infinitive.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sirs,

Thank you very much for your response to my yesterday's comment. I would like to ask you about noun modifiers. My question is about expressions such as "patent department", in which the noun is modifyiing another noun and I suppose the "s" indicating plural falls before the noun, is that correct? or should we write patents department?

Thank you

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