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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 ali shah,

In these sentences, 'surely' is a sentence adverb, i.e. an adverbial that expresses the speaker's attitude to or view of what is said. Commas are used after sentence adverbs when they are in initial position, as is the case here.

'Reasonably' is not a sentence adverb here (nor is it commonly used as one). Here it modifies the adjective 'good'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

As long as I know "go running" is described as an activity.
But in the sentence "I went running towards him" "running" modifies the verb "went".Because that is the answer of "how" question.

Am I okay?

Thank you.

Hello Goktug123,

Grammarians differ on whether to classify the verb-ing form after 'go' as a participle (modifying the verb) or a gerund (as the object of the verb). There are good arguments on both sides.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Peter,thanks for response.
Is the meaning same for both cases?
Thank you.

Hello Goktung123,

The question is not really one of meaning but of terminology. In your example I would say that 'running' is clearly a participle, as you say, and gives us information about the verb. In examples like 'go swimming', 'go jogging' and so on, there is some discussion over whether to best call the -ing form a gerund or a participle, but there is no disagreement on the meaning in either case.



The LearnEnglish Team

'Reasonably good research exists about the muslim bourgeoisie abchoring the league.'
'Surely, it was not the first time the state has been brought to its knees by rampaging zealots.'

Sir, why was comma not used after 'reasonably', while it was used after 'surely'? Does it make any difference if we put or don't put comma after these adverbs? Does the meaning change if we remove the comma after 'surely'? Sir, please enlighten us about this.

1."In the midterm election process, the Democrats pursued a more coherent and strategic campaign, focusing on ‘table’ issues, such as healthcare, and largely avoiding the fractious debates unleashed by Trump on immigration, race and religion."
Sir, which structure or grammar rule do these -ing verbs( focusing, avoiding) follow? can we use 'focused', 'avoided' instead of the -ing form of words? Does that change meaning if use -ed forms?I'm baffled

2.'With the population having swollen to 207m and expected to increase to 395m by 2047, the demand for clean water and proper sanitation will keep rising. '

3.'Surely, the policy of appeasement does not seem to be working as the situation remains volatile with the Hamass not backing down.'

Similarly, which structure or grammar rule does the first clause(starting with 'with') in 2 and the last part phrase(with the Hamass not backing down) in the 3 follow?

Hi ali shah,

These are all participle clauses. In 1, they act as adverbial clauses by giving more specific information about how the democrats pursued a more strategic campaign. How did they do it? By focusing of table issues and by avoiding the other, more fractious issues. Note that here, the subject of the main clause ('democrats') is the same subject of the verbs in the participle clauses. It is not possible to change 'focusing' and 'avoiding' to past participles here ('focused' and 'avoided') as that would give the participles a passive meaning; here an active meaning is intended.

The subject of the participles 'having swollen' and '[being] expected' in 2 is 'the population', which is a different subject than the subject of the main clause (which is 'the demand for ...'). This is why 'with' is used to begin the clause. (Note that the present participle 'being' was omitted through ellipsis in the second verb.) The clause in 3 begins with 'with' for the same reason.

I hope that helps you make sense of them!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

"Since the restoration of judges under the PPP government, it was thought that independent courts would safeguard citizen rights and also protect democracy."
My question is: Can 'since' be used for time in the above strucuture(the past indefinite passive) as we are taught we use 'since' (for time) in Present Perfect Tense and Present Perfect Continuous Tense? For instance, He has been sleeping since yesterday's night.

Hello again ali shah,

I don't know what the writer of that sentence meant to say, but as I understand it, 'since' refers to time in that sentence. It specifies a point in time that marks the beginning of a change. It is often used in the same way with the present perfect simple and continuous, but can also be used with other tenses. Please see some examples under Since and tenses on this page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team