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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,

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

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

Hello LearnEnglish Team,
I am copying Sakura30's question.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock.

Gibson: You didn’t happen to find anything in this brush, did you?
Bob: Nothing much.
Gibson: Yeah but enough to justify somebody kidnapping your child to keep your mouth shut.

Can I replace "somebody kidnapping your child ...." in the narration above with "somebody's kidnapping your child ...." ?

Hello Parikenan,

It is certainly grammatically possible to use the possessive here, but it is a form which is slowly disappearing from modern English and I think in this context it is quite unlikely to be used.

I don't have any frequency analyis to support this, but my sense is that the possessive form in such constructions is very rare with indefinite pronouns (somebody, anybody etc).

 

I noted that you reposted your question. Please post questions once only. It may take us a few days to answer as we are a small team here but please be patient. Posting the same question more than once only delays the process as we have to check and delete the repeat post.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for this very clear explanation, Peter. And I am very sorry for my not being patient. I have reposted my question because I thought my first question was lost in the wrong place, so The LearnEnglish Team can't see my question. I, on the other hand, really wait for the answer. So Thank you very much again, Peter.

Hi LearnEnglish team,

I'm having trouble understanding the difference between Begin to do and Begin doing.

They begin talking to each other
They begin to talk to each other

Is there any difference?

Thank you so much

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