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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


-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



Hi Ricardo A,

I'm afraid the second sentence is not correct. The word 'in' here is a preposition and needs an object after it, and the object cannot be a base form verb such as 'learn' but must be the gerund form 'learning'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, thank you very much!

hello teacher,
i have a question, can you help me explain please?
" Must i lock the door before i leave?
No, you .......... Some one can do it for you".
A. mustn't B. haven't C. needn't D. don't
I am confused between A & D. BUt i think D is correct answer. Can you help me understand what is difference between A & D?

Thank you.

Hello Loi Dong,

Grammatically speaking, A and C and D are possible. D is questionable.

If we use mustn't then we are saying that the person is not allowed to do this - it would be wrong to lock the door.

If we use needn't then we are saying that it is not necessary to lock the door, but not that it would be wrong to do so.

The most natural answer would be don't have to. However, we would not shorted this to just don't as the full form is not used in the question. We shorten the answer when we are repeating a form in the question, but that is not the case here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

in the example above:
I saw a dog chasing a cat. "chasing a cat" doesn't seem an object to me.
why can't we say its an adj or adverbial just like "There were several people waiting for the bus"
can you please clarify the difference ?

Hello Imenouaer,

Thank you for pointing this out. You are quite right and I have changed the page to include a better example.

Well spotted and thanks again.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Is the following sentence correct?
"Even though the pioneers are coming the Indians are staying there"

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 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. 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.