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 teacher,
i have a question, can you help me explain please?
" Must i lock the door before i leave?
No, you .......... Some one can do it for you".
A. mustn't B. haven't C. needn't D. don't
I am confused between A & D. BUt i think D is correct answer. Can you help me understand what is difference between A & D?

Thank you.

Hello Loi Dong,

Grammatically speaking, A and C and D are possible. D is questionable.

If we use mustn't then we are saying that the person is not allowed to do this - it would be wrong to lock the door.

If we use needn't then we are saying that it is not necessary to lock the door, but not that it would be wrong to do so.

The most natural answer would be don't have to. However, we would not shorted this to just don't as the full form is not used in the question. We shorten the answer when we are repeating a form in the question, but that is not the case here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

in the example above:
I saw a dog chasing a cat. "chasing a cat" doesn't seem an object to me.
why can't we say its an adj or adverbial just like "There were several people waiting for the bus"
can you please clarify the difference ?

Hello Imenouaer,

Thank you for pointing this out. You are quite right and I have changed the page to include a better example.

Well spotted and thanks again.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Is the following sentence correct?
"Even though the pioneers are coming the Indians are staying there"

Hello Katrine,

Yes, it is grammatically correct. I might say 'here' (which tends to be used more with the verb 'come' than 'there'), but it's possible to say it this way.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teacher,

Could you please help me understand the grammar in the following sentences?
1. Mary has had her father solve her a thorny problem.
2. My father has just had the painter paint the door green.
The structure : S+HAS/HAVE had + O + V/ V(participle). What do we call it in English?
Thank you for your kindness.

Hello Loi Duong,

This is a causative use of the verb 'have'. You can 'have somebody do something' or 'have something done'. You can see an explanation of this on this BBC Grammar Challenge page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there!

I've got a question about the structure of "want". I don't know which category it fits into best, so I'm posting it in the "-ing forms" category.

I know it's correct to say: "I don't want you coming home so late."
However, is it also correct to say: "I don't want your coming home so late."?

Thank you very much for your time!

Hello kelly,

'I don't want you to come home so late' is also correct, and in fact much more common than the first sentence you mention. I can't think of a time when the sentence you ask about (with 'your') would be used, but if you have a particular context in mind, feel free to tell us about it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team