'-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

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-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:

amusing
boring
disappointing
interesting
surprising
tiring
worrying
exciting
frightening
shocking
terrifying
annoying
-ing form as an adjective

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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

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-ing form as a noun or adjective 2

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello 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. thanks

Hello ajar sembodo,

Without knowing the context, I can't say for sure, but my guess is that it is a verb here. Why don't you check the Cambridge Dictionary entry to see if that makes sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Scored is a verb in this case. It's in the past simple form. The noun is "a goal" which you omited . So you could say "I scored a goal for my family." Normally before a noun you have an article (the, a/an). For example. The score is 2 x 1. (the score is a noun)
Hi. In this sentence: "Some people are not interested in learning English", can i wrote this way: "Some people are not interested in learn English" Thanks in advance.

Hi Ricardo A,

I'm afraid the second sentence is not correct. The word 'in' here is a preposition and needs an object after it, and the object cannot be a base form verb such as 'learn' but must be the gerund form 'learning'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello 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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello 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,
Kirk
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,
Kirk
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! Kelly

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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Could you please tell me if the following sentences are correct? 1. I can’t stand her making all that noises! 2. I could not imagine him doing volunteerism. (Context: I am humming and I want to know if that bothers the other person) 3. Do you mind me humming? Thank you so much.

Hello Daniel H,

Except for 'noises', which should be 'noise', 1 is correct. 2 is grammatically correct, but 'do' doesn't usually collocate with 'volunteerism', which makes the sentence sound a bit odd. I'd suggest perhaps '... him doing volunteer work' as another way of saying it. 3 is correct – good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

is wrong to say '' she's almost starting a course that it'll help to preparing herself to the test on the end of the year ?

Hello jugavioli,

Yes, I'm afraid that's not a correct sentence. I'm not entirely sure what you intend to say but I think the form you are looking for might be:

She's starting a course that will help her prepare for the test at the end of the year.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir; "The advantages of living abroad" living abroad is not easy. In the above sentence, living is a noun (verb+ing) and abroad is an adverb. How does the adverb come after a noun ?.

Hi pumbi,

Gerunds can be modified by both adjectives and adverbs. For example:

I like creative cooking. [adjective]

I like cooking creatively. [adverb]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello teachers how are you? i have a question about 'ing' form you need to be working. instead of you need to work. and one more with word 'want' you don't want to be overdrawing. i don't want to be feeding the animal. instead of you don't want to overdraw. i don't want to feed the animal. I'm confused with this kind of 'ing structure' please explain.

Hello ahmednagar,

In these sentences 'to be v+ing' is a continuous infinitive, in other words, and infinitive in continuous aspect. A continuous form shows that the speaker views the action as something that is incomplete, in progress, etc., and that is how I'd explain the sentences you ask about. For example, 'You don't want to be overdrawing' could imply that you will be withdrawing money periodically and that you must be careful not to overdraw from your account. You could also say 'You don't want to overdraw' and the meaning isn't much different - there's just less emphasis on the action as something that is continuing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear friends, I would like to know about why, the Nobel prize awarded, Bob Dylan writes an a in some frases like in "... but the times they are a-changing" instead of just changing ; or for example in the title "A hard Rain's A-gonna Fall". Can you be so kind to help me? Greetings and Thanks Roberto Olavarrieta Marenco

Hello Roberto,

This is quite common in songs and poetry. It is done to make the words fit the rhythm of the music or the verse. WIthout the extra syllable the words would not fit so well.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm very pleased of your rapid response, thank you. So, Is it considered a correct form of Poetry? Dylan Thomas or Walt Whitman used to write that way? -I have to establish that I admire Bob Dylan and enjoy it-

Hello Roberto,

In poetry I would be careful of descriptions like 'correct'. Poetry is a creative medium in which rules are frequently broken! This is a standard feature of poetry with a strong rhythm (metre) , however, and you can find examples in Shakespeare, Milton and others.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you teacher. I will be looking for Milton and Shakespeare this coming year. My best wishes. Roberto
Hello Teacher, Could you please help me understand this matter please? Here is the sentence: "Interestingly, some traits were more accurately predicted based one the person's listening habits than others.' I can understand the meaning in this sentence, however, i am not clear about its structure. 1. What is the function of the phrase ' based on the person's listening habits'? Does it modify for the whole sentence? 2. In this sentence, there are two participle Verbs standing next to each other without any comma. Thank you very much for your support. Have a good day.

Hello Loi Duong,

As a rule, we don't comment on sentences from elsewhere. This is because we don't know the context in which the sentence was used and because the sentences are often not good examples of English. Your sentence, for example, is not grammatically correct so either the source is not a good one or you have incorrectly copied it.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr. Peter, I am sorry for bothering you again. But i still need help from you in this case. I just wan to make sure that what i am studying is right information. I am sure that i have correctly copied the sentence. But i am not certain about the source. I enclosed the site here (http://www.thinkinghumanity.com/2014/01/8-surprising-ways-music-affects-and-benefits-our-brains.html#sthash.Txsdsr0C.dpuf). Could you please check it out. (Number 3 paragraph 4). In the case, the sentence is not grammatically correct, how can to fix it right? I highly appreciate your help. Thank you very much. Have a nice holidays. Kind regards,

Hello Loi Duong,

I see the error - the text says 'based on' rather than 'based one'. What this means is that when they tried to make predictions using different factors, the factor that worked best in predicting personality traits was their listening habits. It modifies the main subject and verb phrase.

'base on' is a phrasal verb and you can see more examples of it in the dictionary entry I linked to.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello, why is there a ing form in the follow sentence? "Anyone arriving after the start of the play is not allowed in until the interval" I would have put "arrives" instead of arriving,, please correct me if I wrong

Hello manuel24,

If you use a relative clause then 'arrives' would be correct:

Anyone who arrives after the start...

However, when we reduce the relative clause we use a present participle instead of a present simple form:

Anyone arriving after the start...

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr. Peter, May i ask you a question? Please kindly look at the sentence following: "The fourth question concerned the causes of the destruction of rainforests. Perhaps encouragingly, more than half of the pupils (59%) identified that it is human activities which are destroying rainforests, some personalising the responsibility by the use of term such as 'we are'. 1. why do they use ' it is human activities' instead of ' they are' which is supposed to be followed by a plural noun ' activities'? 2. '..., some personalising... '. I cant get this point. Is that a present participle or else? why do they still use 'some' as a subject, 'personalising' as a participle verb instead of 'personalised' for a paralell structure with the previous clause 'half of the puplis identified...'? Please help my to clarify the points. Thank you very much

Hello Loi Duong,

In 1, 'it' is used to form a cleft sentence. A cleft structure puts new information at the front (after 'it' + 'be') in order to emphasise it. So this clause puts emphasis on 'human activities' as the cause of the destruction of rainforests according to the pupils. Cleft structures can begin in different ways; 'it is' is one of the most common and 'they are' is not one. See this BBC page and this Cambridge Dictionary page (be sure to scroll down) for more on cleft structures.

In 2, using the past simple form 'personalised' would make this a fused sentence, which is fine in an informal style, but not the formal or academic style of this text. If a full stop were introduced where the comma is, then you could do this, e.g. '... rainforests. Some personalised the responsibility ...' In this case, the writer has used a participle clause, which is quite common in this kind of text.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir.I have one question.Words with ing at the end like(warning,morning,playing,etc...).When you pronounce that words do you say them with g.For example do you say mornin or morning.

Hello Toma5,

The pronunciation of words in English varies quite a lot depending on several factors. There are different pronunciations in different varieties (accents), but perhaps more importantly, some sounds change or are even omitted depending on the other words around them.

In isolation, usually these words don't end with a /g/ but rather /ŋ/. You can hear what they sound like in the Cambridge Dictionary – see for example the entry for 'warning' (press the small audio button before 'UK' to hear a British pronunciation) – but sometimes that /ŋ/ sound is left out, particularly in informal contexts in some varieties of English.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teacher, Please, what is the correct preposition to use in the following sentence about asking someone a question? "I asked a question of/from/to him". Should I use "of" or "to" or 'from" or another preposition? **Is it even correct to construct a sentence like the one above? [I know a more straightforward sentence would be "I asked him a question", but I'm just curious as to whether it is also correct to put it in the format above]. Thanks.

Hello Peace95,

As far as I know, using 'of' is correct, but it is quite unusual and sounds rather formal or even medieval. The other two prepositions don't sound correct at all, and are not used in standard English. I wouldn't recommend using any of these forms, but rather the one with 'him', which is of course very commonly used.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir, Could you kindly help me to clarify the difference, if any, between the words "deceit" and "deception"? I have consulted three different online sources but I still don't get the difference. 1) One source appears to use the two words interchangeably. 2) The second source I consulted says: "deceit denotes deceiving, and it is always intentional and implies a disposition to mislead. Deception denotes the act of deceiving, and it may be innocent and unintentional." I am trying to understand the difference here. [This source says nothing about whether the act of deceiving has to be a single occurrence or a habit repeated multiple times]. 3) A third source differentiates between these two words in a completely different manner by saying that “deceit” is the habit while “deception” is the act. I am trying to make sense of the differentiation in this third source. Does it imply that we use “deceit” only when there are multiple acts of deception? I ask this because the source says deceit is a habit. Does this mean we cannot use the word “deceit” for a single episode of intentionally misleading another person? Does it have to happen multiple times before we can use the word “deceit” to describe it? Which of the above sources do you think is the correct one? If an individual intentionally misleads another person only once, is this a deception or a deceit, assuming it is a one-off occurrence and the deceiver never repeats the act again? Thank you.

Hello Tomi,

As far as I know, these words are very close in meaning. They have the same definitions in the Cambridge Dictionary. I imagine that one or the other is more common in different contexts and in combination with different words. I'm afraid I can't help you much beyond this, as we focus on helping our users with questions and problems they have that are directly related to our site. I'm not sure if any of the major online dictionaries have a forum where you can ask questions like this, but that might be worth looking into. 

Good luck!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello teacher I don't understand the sentence from the practive this: I love watching my son play football is that grammar correct , there are two verbs in this sentence : love and play why?

Hello strugglingman,

Using verbs in combinations is very common in English. Here the construction is 'love + verb-ing' and it means enjoy doing something.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Please, can you tell me which of these sentences is/are grammatically correct? I have heard some people use all of these kinds of sentence constructions. Here are the sentences: -Were it not for the fact that I was tired, I would have run after him. -If not for the fact that I was tired, I would have run after him. -If not because I was tired, I would have run after him. -Had it not been for the fact that I was tired, I would have run after him. -But for the fact that I was tired, I would have run after him. -If I hadn't been tired, I would have run after him. *Are there alternative ways or better ways to construct the above sentence? How would you say it if you wanted to say it? Thanks for your help. Peace95.

Hello Peace95,

Those are a lot of different sentences and there's an awful lot to consider here, so I'll comment on just the first and last ones for now.

The first sentence is a mixed conditional, having elements of both the second and third conditionals (follow the links), though in this case inversion of the subject and verb is used instead of 'if' in the condition clause. This is a somewhat formal and unusual style, though it's perfectly correct. More frequently this would probably be expressed as 'If it were not for the fact that I was tired ...' or even just 'If I hadn't been so tired ...' (as in your last sentence).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team