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



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

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,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk:

How do I know when 'to' is used as an infinitive and as preposition? Could you please clarify by giving examples? Thanks -

Hello zahid51,

I'm afraid the only way to know this is to look at the sentence in which it is used. If 'to' is part of an infinitive then it is followed by a verb (base form). If it is used as a preposition then it is followed by an object (typically a noun or gerund).

I provided some links to helpful pages in my earlier answer, which you can see on this page just below this answer.


Best wishes,


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!

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,


The LearnEnglish Team