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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



Hello mehransam05,

English often uses different forms for the same purpose. Both 'link verbs' and 'linking verbs' are names for the same thing.

There is a difference between adjectives ending in -ed and -ing and we have a page devoted to this which you can find here. In general, we use -ing to describe something which causes an effect and -ed to describe something which the effect happens to. For example:

The man is boring! [other people are not interested in him]

The man is bored! [he is not having fun]


In your examples 'an infected area' is one where the infection has taken hold. The area has been affected by the infection - it is, if you like, a victim. By contrast, 'infecting areas' are areas which can make other places (or people etc) catch the disease.

'Infectious' has a similar meaning to 'infecting' but it refers to the characteristic rather than the action. In other words, an infectious area is one which can infect but may at the moment be safe (because of quarantine, for example). An infecting area is one which is actively infecting others.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Good afternoon (day, morning, evening, as the case may be),

I bumped into a question that I struggled to answer regarding ~ing forms as adjectives.

The phrases:
1) The running girl is Kana.
2) The girl running is Kana.

I feel that the first one is incorrect, and it sounds strange when I say it aloud, but for the life of me I can't put my finger on why that is.


Hello tankenka,

I would say that both sentences are grammatically correct, but the first formulation is rarely used. You may remember a Schwarzenegger film from the 1980s titled 'The Running Man', for example.


The -ing forms here have different grammatical functions. The first sentence uses 'running' as an adjective before the noun. The -ing form in the second sentence also modifies the noun but it is part of a reduced relative clause (phrase) as follows:

The girl [who is] running is Kana.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, I appreciate the breakdown.

Hello dear team,
You said:
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.

Can I say that "swimming " is modal?

Thank you very much team.

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