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.





Sir, you mentioned that the '-ing' form of the verb can be used as an adjective. In the example given- "He saw a woman lying on the floor ". Isnt lying a verb here and not an adjective?

Hello Anshu,

The phrase 'lying on the floor' here is adjectival as it describes the noun phrase 'a woman'. You can think of it as a reduced relative clause:

He saw a woman (who was) lying on the floor.

The -ing form is formed from a verb but in this sentence it has an adjectival function.


Note that this use of the -ing form comes after the noun, not before. Thus:

He saw a woman lying on the floor - correct

He saw a lying on the floor woman - incorrect



The LearnEnglish Team

which one is correct ?
1. governments are looking to rein in capital spending in the wake of the collapse in oil prices .
2. governments are looking to rein in spending capital in the wake of the collapse in oil prices .
thanks in advance

Thanks a lot, Kirk!

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,


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,
The LearnEnglish Team