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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

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-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:

amusing
boring
disappointing
interesting
surprising
tiring
worrying
exciting
frightening
shocking
terrifying
annoying
-ing form as an adjective

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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

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-ing form as a noun or adjective 2

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Comments

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

I am having struggle with the phrase "to mean" in the sentence below,

If a policeman says to someone, “Stop!” the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand that the policeman to mean “You stop!”

Is "to mean" in the sentence above the same as "means" ? If so, can we replace "to mean" with "means" ?

And can we use the form to create sentences like,

Mr. John to need my help.
Bill to go swimming.
My teacher to tell me to do my homework.

Hello Parikenan,

Your sentence is not quite right. The phrase is 'understand something to mean' (without 'that'). The phrase is just another way to say 'means'. For example:

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand him to mean “You must stop!”

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand 'Stop' to mean “You must stop!”

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

You are right, Peter. I had added the word "that", because of my ignorance, that makes the sentence wrong. Thank you very much for the correction and the explanation.

If I am not mistaken with your explanation, I assumed your answer works like this below,

The first sentence :

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand him, who said 'Stop' (that means "you must stop!”).

Or in my short sentence,

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand him.

The second sentence :

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand 'Stop', which was said by the policeman (that means “You must stop!”).

Or in my short sentence,

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand 'Stop'.

How about my opinion, Peter?

Hello again Parikenan,

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand him, who said 'Stop' (that means "you must stop!”).

This sentence is not correct. It's not clear who the relative pronoun refers to and the structure is not clear and is not natural English. 

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand him.

This sentence is correct grammatically, but it no longer includes any reference to the particular sentence the policeman is saying, so it's more general now.

 

The second sentence :

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand 'Stop', which was said by the policeman (that means “You must stop!”).

Here, you need to change the sentence as follows:

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand 'Stop', which was said by the policeman to mean “You must stop!”.

Or in my short sentence,

...the person the policeman is talking to will probably understand 'Stop'.

This is grammatical, but it is more general as it does not tell us how the person understands this, only that they do understand it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

OK, Peter. It is clear now. I completely understand what you mean. Thank you very much for you explanation.

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

Could you help me with this sentence, please ?

1. Write all the sentences below with adverbs of frequency, telling how often each person works.

2. Write all the sentences below with adverbs of frequency, which is telling how often each person works.

Do they both sentences have the same meaning ?

If they don't have the same meaning, how can the phrase "telling how often each person works." after the comma as in the sentence number 1 be created ?

Hello Parikenan,

Sentence 1 is correct and 2 is not. In 1, 'telling how ...' is a participle phrase acting as a reduced relative clause -- it means the same as 'which tell how often ...'. Although our participle clauses page doesn't discuss reduced relative clauses much, it's a similar idea that I think you might find useful.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much, Kirk. It is very clear now.

Hello LearnEnglish Team,

Could you please help me with my two sentences below,

1. "To write a report of something that happened in the past, you need to add a subject to every clause and use past tense verbs."

2. "To write a report of something happening in the past, you need to add a subject to every clause and use past tense verbs."

Do they both sentences have the same meaning?

Hello Parikenan,

They do have the same meaning, but I'd recommend you use the first one because it sounds more natural. 

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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