'-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 Sometimes i get confused when the word "borrow" is used i heard a conversation whereby someone was asking for money. When he was given the money he asked, "Are you borrowing me this money or .." was he suppose to use borrow or "lend"? Please help me

Hello Lamastry,

In some varieties of English, 'borrow' can mean both 'borrow' (i.e. when you take something from someone who lets you use it) and also 'lend' (when someone lets someone else use something), which can indeed be very confusing! The indirect object after 'borrow' – in the sentence you give as an example, '... borrow me this money' – makes it clear that 'borrow' means 'lend' here. Whenever you see an indirect object after 'borrow', it will mean 'lend', as when 'borrow' means 'borrow', the indirect object is not used.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello, when the -ing form can not be used with state verbs? can you show me any example?
hello, I read in the session above" We can use the -ing form of the verb: • as an adjective: The main problem today is rising prices. He saw a woman lying on the floor" ...so rising and lying are adjective? and what difference is there between "I love swimming" and I like playing tennis? why swimming is a noun and playing tennis is a object? I have not understood a lot of the session above

Hello manuel24,

The '-ing form' has various roles in English. It can be a gerund, which is a noun made from a verb. It can also be a present participle, which is a verb form.

In the sentence 'I like swimming' we can replace 'swimming' with other nouns:

I like swimming

I like cake

I like English

I like coffee

However, in the sentence 'I like playing tennis' we cannot replace 'playing' with a noun. Therefore we can see that the word has a different role in the sentence.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir Could you please tell me whether the following two sentences are gramatically correct? If they are correct what is the difference. 1. She likes being outside. For eg. on holiday. 2. She likes to be outside. Does it give the same meaning? Thanks

Hello andrew international,

You can generally find the answers to questions like this if you look in the appropriate sections. One of our pages on verbs followed by '-ing' and the infinitive is here, and your question is answered there.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

sir.. i never understand sentences like these. 1) I have have........... 2) I have had........ 3) I had had.......... I know this question is not relevant to this page but if this site have any dedicated page for this, please suggest me the link. Thanks

Hello munish064,

These are examples of various forms, which are quite different from one another.

I suggest you look at the grammar section under verbs. Use the links there to look at perfective forms, the perfect aspect, present perfect and past perfect.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir, Could you please check and tell me whether these sentences are correct: 1) I start practising every evening 2) I begin practising every evening 3) I finish practising every night 4) I dislike doing this again and again 5) I smell something burning

Hello adtygarwleng,

I'm afraid this a service we don't offer. If you want to ask us a specific question about one or two sentences, explaining how you see them and where your confusion lies, then we can help you with that.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, what are the comparative and superlative of 'common'? More common and the most common, or commoner and commonest? I got confused after seeing the word 'commonest' in this site. Thank you.

Hello Melody,

According to the general rules for forming comparative and superlative adjectives, 'more' and 'most' should be used, but in fact both 'commoner'/'commonest' and 'more common'/'most common' are accepted. There are a handful of adjectives like 'common' that are exceptions. By the way, a good dictionary, such as the Oxford Dictionary, will show you this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

yes, I did. I understood that one wants to do something but hasn't started. eg. I like to travel. This means I am planning or thinking.

Hello Elena,

There are many great grammar books out there, but I'm afraid we don't recommend particular books. If you do an internet search for 'best grammar book for english students' or something similar, however, I'm sure you'll find some useful information. Be sure to read about each the books so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Kirk! Please, could you suggest the rule explaining the sentence below: “…some tissues were millions of times more vulnerable to developing cancer than others”. Meaning “were… + to + -ing-form”? Thank in advance!

Hello Glikeri,

This is actually simpler than it appears. Look at it as 'be' + adjective ('vulnerable'), and this particular adjective can take the preposition 'to' after it. After any preposition, a verb goes in the -ing form.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers, I've a doubt concerning the sentence "I love watching my son play football", in the exercise. Isn't it "i love watching my son playing football"? Thank you in advance

Hello giulia,

Both sentences are correct, though the more commonly used one is the first one. After verbs of perception (such as 'hear', 'observe', and, as in this example, 'watch'), an object is typically followed by the base form of the verb. The -ing form is also possible, and has the range of meanings associated with the continuous aspect. In this case, the -ing form doesn't add much meaning, but, for example in a sentence like 'I saw him look/looking at her', the second form adds the sense that he was looking at her more intently or more often.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! I am wondering about these two sentences: 1. I have grown to love ~ 2. I am growing to love ~ Is "grow to" always followed by the infinitive and is there a reason why? Thanks in advance.

Hello Kurin,

If 'grow' is followed by a verb, yes, the second verb goes in the to + infinitive form. 'to', however, can also be used as a preposition followed by a noun, e.g. 'grow to a great height').

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I want an explanation for TO+ing form Is there a rule? e.g be relaxed and open to learning .... thanks, elena

Hello Elena,

In this phrase, 'to' is a preposition. Prepositions are followed by nouns and the -ing form of a verb can be used as a noun, so that's why 'open to learning' is correct. Another example which often causes confusion is 'I look forward to seeing you tomorrow'.

There is sometimes no easy way of telling whether 'to' is being used as part of an infinitive or as a preposition; I'd recommend you make a note of phrases such as 'open to learning' and 'looking forward to seeing you' – if you revise it from time to time, you'll soon be able to recognise them.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Subido por Elena estela el Vie, 13/11/2015 - 09:53

En respuesta a por Elena estela

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Thank you very much for the explanation. Actually what you,ve recommended me is what I'm doing, here some examples: -How would you explain Donn Byrne's approach to achieving.. - What are the main implications of using the N.A to the teaching of English... -The key to increasing intelligibility... The use of authentic materials contributes to reducing the distance... -Our concern now turns to dealing with the C.Approach.... Do they all follow the same "rule"? I've tried to find exercises so I can practice but no luck is there something you can recommend me? The thing is I try to avoid this TO+ing form because I'm afraid of ending up saying things like : I'm very happy to doing... which sounds terrible! why ? Thanking you in advance, Elena

Hello Elena,

Yes, all of those examples follow the pattern which Kirk summarised: 'to' as a preposition followed by an object (in this case, a gerund).

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Team, Can we use both Gerunds and Infinitives with EXCEPT and BUT? 1) They had no other option except to go there. 2) They had no other option except going there. 3) They had no other option but to go there. 4) They had no other option but going there. Is there anything wrong with the above mentioned sentences ? Regards, Sam
good evening teachers!another day i noticed this following sentence few used in daily lunguage. the sentence is: i'm still angry about having been fired by her , i wonder if might say in the following way: i'm still angry about her firing me and what type of ing form is it? thank you in advance.

Hello rosario70,

Yes, you can say it that way. In that case, the -ing form nominalises the verb (i.e. makes the verb into a noun) so that it can be the object of the preposition 'about'. This form is often called a 'gerund', though not all grammarians agree with that.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M I quote two sentences from Anthony Kennys book " A Ancient Philosophy" as examples that I have a big problem with them in writing. ( Please note, I have highlighted their verbs with letters) 1. One who claims knowledge must be resolute, EXCLUDING the possibility of being rightly converted, at a later stage, to a difference view. 2. In fact, the stoic reply seems to be either unnecessary or insufficient, DEPENDING ON how we interpret the sceptical challenge?. Could you explain "when, where and why we use from sentences like these? an " why the comma lies befor the verb of sentence? Thank You So Much,

Hello peyman89,

I think the best way to learn to use these phrases would be to look for examples of them. You have several options. The easiest is to look them up in a good dictionary, e.g. Cambridge Dictionaries Online, Oxford Dictionaries Online – in both of these as well as many others, you can see examples and definitions. Another is to do an internet search for them inside "quotation marks" to see how they are used on different webpages. Finally, you might want to consider searching for them in a corpus such as the British National Corpus, which will show you how they have been used in different sources.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I have the following doubt,which one of the above sentences are right: His error is dont making the studants studying,His error is dont making the studants study
good morning teachers, i have a doubt one more time about the ing form, last week i noticed the following sentences: 1) i'm gutted dad going away 2) you're upset me rejceting you; 3) we're meant to be discussing hoods. about 1 and 2 i might say : i'm gutted that dad went away and you're upset that i rejceted you, are there any differences? in 3 if we said : we're meant discussing hoods... thank you early.

Hello rosario70,

Sentences 1 and 2 are not really grammatical, but I understand them to mean the same things that you do. Sentence 3 is correct – 'be meant to do something' (which is in our dictionary) is used to indicate an intention or plan, so this means something like 'we are supposed to be discussing hoods' or even 'we should be discussing hoods'.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello YaraH,

'play' and 'playing' are both correct here and mean slightly different things. 'playing' suggests that you are seeing your son at the time you say this, i.e. that you are watching him at that moment. 'play' has a general meaning and implies that you see the whole event; it is thus often used to speak about something you enjoy in general, but not necessarily at the time of speaking.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,Peter i have a little bit confuse about the following sentence 1:i love watching my son play football&i love to watch my son playing football(could you explain why the second one is incorrect) 2:i heard someone playing the piano&i heard someone is playing the piano.(why i cant use is in the second sentence) would you please explain for me,thanks.

Hi PANUI,

[love + -ing] has a similar meaning to 'enjoy'. In other words, 'love watching' means you get enjoyment while you are doing it.

[love + to verb] is used to talk about habits and preferences. In other words 'love to watch' means this is a way you like to spend your time.

In your second pair of sentences the difference is quite clear. The first sentence means you heard the sound of their playing with your own ears. The second means that you were given information that a concert (or similar) is planned. It does not mean that you want to or will hear the music; it means you are informed that the music is planned.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear all i have a question, which one is right? The brakes need to adjust or The brakes need adjusting sometimes i do answer the question of -ing and to+infinitive right, but sometimes i don't thanks best regards

Hello ajiekonugroho,

Grammatically, both are possible. However, there is a difference in meaning.

'The brakes need to adjust' means the brakes will adjust themselves.

'The brakes need adjusting' means it is necessary for someone will adjust the brakes.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

good evening to all you, i still have some trouble about ing o to infinitive 1) I noticed the following sentence recentely: nobody seems happy about leaving the village, but if i read above the page i realise that one could be written in this another following way(nobody seems happy to leave the village) i wonder if the first one is right, and what is the difference? if there is one. 2) I heard someone playing the piano , over this i want to try making the passive form. someone was heard playing the piano or someone was heard to be playing the piano. are they both possible? thank you early. kind regards.

Hello rosario70,

1) Both sentences are indeed possible but there is a difference in meaning. In the first sentence ('...about leaving...') the suggestion is that the leaving has happened or is happening, and that people are not enjoying it. In the second sentence ('...to leave...') we are talking about whether or not the people accept a plan to leave the village. The implication is that they have not yet left, but the suggestion is not popular.

2) Both are possible both the second version is quite archaic to my ear.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello guys, I can't find an answer to the following question anywhere, maybe you could help me. Present participle as an adjective can only describe action taking place at the moment (normally expessed by verbs in present continuous), or it can also describe an action usually described by verbs in present simple tense? For example, the sentence "People singing in the shower are cool". Does this mean that people who are singing right now are cool, or it can also mean that people who have such a habit are cool, or both?

Hello Bluet, 

It can mean both, but if we are talking in general then we would use no article, while if we were talking about a particular group of people who are singing now then we would use a definite article:

People singing in the shower are cool. [general - all people who sing in the shower]

The people singing in the shower are cool. [specific - a concrete group of people who are singing now]

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, the use of ing form or to infinitive, is for me still difficult, I mean that I'm not sure what is the right structure. For example about the verb 'get', when should I use getting or to get? Thanks