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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 Parikenan,

OK, now that I see the full context I understand. Yes, 'operational' is an adjective. The verb 'keep' is often used with a noun and adjective in this way. In this case, it means something like 'to cause the company to stay operational' -- in other words, the company has a better chance of surviving financial difficulties.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

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


Hi great team,
I am confused by one thing about gerunds.

For example, when I search some gerunds such as reading, swimming, smoking, I can see the definitions in the dictionaries.

But When I wrote a gerund such as believing,trespassing,etc.I couldn't see their definitions.

Could you explain me why dictionaries don't show all gerunds' meanings? and show some gerunds'?

Thank you. And best wishes!

Hello Nevı,

That's a very good question. I suppose it has something to do with how common the activities the words refer to are, but I'm afraid I'm not completely sure about that. If you can find a place to ask this question on the Cambridge Dictionary blog, they might be able to help you with the answer there.

If you find anything out, please let us know!

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team,
I want to ask something about past perfect continuous.
Can I write these sentences without
any meaning differences?

"While I had been watching Tv for 2 hours , my friends dropped in. " or
" I had been watching TV for 2 hours when my friends dropped in. "

I am confused about when can I use this tense. Thank you!
Best wishes.

Hi Nevı,

Sentence 2 is fine! In sentence 1, while doesn't fit the meaning of the sentence. While introduces things happening at the same time, but I had been watching (past perfect continuous) shows this happened before the friends dropped in. I'd use the past continuous (was watching) here, or change while to after.

  • While I was watching TV, my friends dropped in.
  • After I'd been watching TV for two hours, my friends dropped in.

Does that make sense?

Have a look at these links for more explanation of the past perfect and past continuous.


The LearnEnglish Team

❝After having spent 6 hours at the hospital, the finally came back home.❞
❝After being helped by the volunteers, they could came back home.❞
Are this sentences correct & what is the difference between these?
Could you please explain?!

Hi IjajKhan,

A couple of corrections are needed.

  1. After having spent 6 hours at the hospital, they finally came back home.
  2. After being helped by the volunteers, they could come back home.

Also, in sentence 2, it would be more common to use 'were able to' instead of 'could'. Have a look at our Past ability page for more explanation about this. (See the 'Ability on one occasion – successful' section.)

About the differences, do you mean in the After + verb+ing part? Sentence 1 has a perfect participle, which emphasises that the action of 'spending 6 hours' is complete. Using a present participle would be fine here too (After spending 6 hours ...), and means the same thing. Sentence 2 has a present participle in the passive. You can find more information and examples about these structures on our Participle clauses page.

I hope it helps :)


The LearnEnglish Team

I enjoy getting dressed as a barbie doll. Here "getting" is the object of the verb, enjoy and "dressed as a barbie doll" is the clause following the object. Is that correct?

Hello Sai_Krishna1011,

I'd call 'getting dressed as a barbie doll' the noun phrase that is the object of the verb. You could further break down this noun phrase, of course.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team