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.




Hello fahri,

No, the -ing form of a verb (e.g. 'swimming') is not a modal verb. When they are used as nouns, -ing forms are sometimes called 'gerunds'. Is that what you mean perhaps?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have a pretty tricky question. I teach English and recently one of my students asked: So, you can say "I like to run" and you can say "I like running". What is the difference?

I've thought about it for a while and while these two expressions do seem different to me (I had some extensive practice with native speakers) I'm struggling to explain the difference from a grammar point. Maybe you can help me out here? Thanks!

Hello Oddus,

In most circumstances, there is no difference in meaning between the two forms. But if you're speaking about only one occasion, the -ing form is the correct one.

For example, 'I like running in the park' and 'I like to run in the park' mean the same thing. But if you speak about running in the park with Natalia last weekend, then -ing is the form you should use: 'I liked running in the park with Natalia'.

By the way, you might be interested in our TeachingEnglish site, where there are lots of free resources for teachers. I encourage you to check it out.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Why we use for example studying while we have the noun study as the subject or object of a sentence?? I mean many action verbs have their noun but why we use the ing form?
Many thanks

Hello mahsa bvnzhd,

Could you please give a specific example? That will make it easier for us to help you effectively.

Thanks in advance.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


I have question about using verb+ing.

Verb+ ing could be used as adjective like 'managing' such as managing director and also could be used as noun like 'building' such as character building or
The old building is being renovated by owner.

Can I used managing or building as object ?

Example : Managing finance is very important in trading business.
Building character for kid should be started since in junior high school.

or can I use such as;
I enjoy managing people in my office.
The worker has already finished building the station.

Thanks in advance

Hello Lianop,

Yes, you can use a gerund (the name an -ing form has when it is used as a noun) as both a subject and as an object. Your sentences are correct -- well done!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk.
Many thanks for your comment,
I wrote first two sentences are only for example.You can assume that Playing football is the best sport as you stated.It is no matter.My intention is playing football or football playing which one is better usage and why.If it is different,let me know why for difference between two words Playing football and Football playing.if it is same,explain me .the reason for being same.
Best regards
Aung BoBo

Hello Aung BoBo,

The normal and correct word order is 'playing football'. It might help to think of it this way: 'playing' is like a verb and 'football' is the object of the verb. Although people would understand 'football playing', it is not correct.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team