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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 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

Playing football is the best playing. Football playing is the best playing.What should I write playing football or football playing?Let me know which one is used for what with grammartically.

Hello Aung BoBo,

'Playing football' is the normal order. I'm afraid I don't completely understand your sentence, however -- the word 'playing' at the end confuses me. Do you mean 'Playing football is the best sport'? If you can explain it a bit, we can help you choose another word.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I have a sentence here
"Talk to it, calling it by name, when it show up"
I wonder why they used "calling" instead of "call" and what is that structure ?
thank you very much

Hello Khanh Vu,

In this sentence, 'calling it by name' is a participle clause (the -ing form is a present participle here). It has an adverbial function here, since it describes how to talk to 'it'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

In the sentence:
You will pass the exam by studying a lot and doing all the activities.

What's the ing rule there?
Is it possible to omit the "by"?

Thanks in advance

Hello David Reis,

'By' is necessary here if you want to say that studying is the method for passing the exam. You can remove 'by', grammatically speaking, but the meaning is different. If we have this sentence

You will pass the exam studying a lot and doing all the activities.

then we are not saying that one action causes another but simply that they happen at the same time. This would be an example of a participle clause/phrase and you can read more about these constructions here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

i have a question, i have the sentence "scored for my family"
is scored a noun, an adjective, or a verb?
im so confused
but hopefully you can help me to clear this sentence.