'-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


Average: 4.2 (6 votes)
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Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 02/04/2018 - 07:21

In reply to by lexeus


Hello Lexeus,

The two forms you ask about function as nouns, and yes, they are gerunds, i.e. words formed from verbs that are used as nouns.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mehransam05 on Sat, 31/03/2018 - 16:28

Hi What is the differences between these in meaning and usage: 1) A)a moving vehicle B)a movement vehicle 2) A)cementation damage B)cementing damage 3) A)treatment fluid B)treating fluid Thanks
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sat, 31/03/2018 - 18:23

In reply to by mehransam05


Hi mehransam05,

1a is an acceptable collocation (word combination) in standard British English, but 1b is not. A moving vehicle is a vehicle that is moving at the time you're talking about.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with any of the other word combinations. If I had some idea what they meant, then I could recommend one over the other, but without some context I can't really say. Sorry.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Anshu on Tue, 13/03/2018 - 16:00

Sir, you mentioned that the '-ing' form of the verb can be used as an adjective. In the example given- "He saw a woman lying on the floor ". Isnt lying a verb here and not an adjective?

Hello Anshu,

The phrase 'lying on the floor' here is adjectival as it describes the noun phrase 'a woman'. You can think of it as a reduced relative clause:

He saw a woman (who was) lying on the floor.

The -ing form is formed from a verb but in this sentence it has an adjectival function.


Note that this use of the -ing form comes after the noun, not before. Thus:

He saw a woman lying on the floor - correct

He saw a lying on the floor woman - incorrect



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ibrahemyacoup on Mon, 05/02/2018 - 16:45

hi which one is correct ? 1. governments are looking to rein in capital spending in the wake of the collapse in oil prices . 2. governments are looking to rein in spending capital in the wake of the collapse in oil prices . thanks in advance