'-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


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Hello FadeFade,

The structure is determined by the first verb. For example, 'want' is a verb that is followed by the infinitive, so 'She wants to run a marathon' is correct but 'She wants running a marathron' is not. For this reason, 'get' could become either 'to get' or 'getting', depending on the verb before it.

I'd suggest you look at our verbs followed by to + infinitive and verbs followed by -ing clauses pages for more on this.

Hope this helps!

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Team, I'm finding it very difficult to identify present participles from gerunds in passages. Are there any rules that can help with this? In the conversation below, between Ben and Anne, some of the activities are present participles and some are gerunds. Could you please help me to identify which is which? Ben: Anne, have you ever been bungee jumping? Anne: No, I have never been bungee jumping, isn't it dangerous? Ben: Actually no... Anne: Well I still don't think it's suitable for the students... what about cycling? I went cycling on Thursday of last week... Ben: I think the students would be a little bored. Do you like swimming? I went swimming in the local lake at the weekend... Anne: Is that the lake in the nature park? I was hiking there not so long ago when I saw a sign saying you could camp there. We could organize a camping trip too. We could include camping, fishing, swimming and I hear you can even go canoeing there too. Ben: That's a great idea! Camping is fun, swimming is good for health, fishing will be relaxing for the students, and canoeing is really exciting. It will be a great trip. Best wishes for your assistance lexeus

Hello lexeus,

I'm afraid it's not possible for us to do exercises like this for our users - if we tried then we would simply not have time for anything else.

I can tell you that a gerund is a noun formed from a verb, and so must fulfil the role of a noun in the sentence. That means that it must refer to a person, place, thing, state, or quality, and that it can be a subject or an object in the sentence.

Participles are verb forms which modify verbs or nouns, and so have either adverbial or adjectival roles in the sentence.

I hope that helps you. Good luck!


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi again! When I have to list verbs,is it more correct the bare infinitive or the -ing form? Fro example : There's a lot to do in this place : going shopping,going to the parks.....OR There's a lot to do: go shopping,go the parks.... Thanks in advance. Best regards,Ilariuccia

Hello Ilariuccia,

In this case, you should use the bare infinitive form. To be honest, I'm not sure if there's a rule about this, but the bare infinitive definitely sounds correct to me, whereas the -ing form sounds awkward. In fact, the fact that the -ing form is more complicated may be the very reason the bare infinitive is preferred here.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi LearnEnglish Team, May I know whether it's correct to use 'washing' in this sentence? 'He is helping his father washing the car.' I know that the following sentences are correct, but I'm not sure about 'washing': 1) 'He is helping his father wash the car.' 2) 'He is helping his father to wash the car.' Thank you in advance.

Hello Danielle,

Although it's perfectly comprehensible, the sentence with 'washing' is not correct. Only the two patterns you already identified are standard.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Which serial i mantain for learning english grammer?can you tell me sir?i am new learner,i have no better knowledge about english.but i am medical science student.i want to learn correct engish.
Hello! In question number 7: " I look forward to meeting him tomorrow" In this sentence what is the function of "to"? is it functioning as a preposition? if yes! can't we use "for" instead of "to"? Would you be able to clarify when to use "to" or "for" this confuse me a lot! Thank you.

Hello hrnmno,

In this sentence 'to' is a preposition, and so is followed by a noun-form (here, a gerund). We cannot use 'for' in this sentence as the phrasal verb 'look forward to' is a set form, and we cannot change the elements.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sannaa,

In form, gerunds and past participles are the same in that both end in -ing. The difference between them lies in how they are used. When an -ing form is used as a noun, it is a gerund. When it is used any other way, e.g. as part of a verb, as an adjective or in an adverbial, it is a present participle.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Is there a difference between like to + infinitive and like + v +ing please, give me examples

Subido por Peter M. el Mar, 30/12/2014 - 15:36

En respuesta a por Ahmed Khallaf

Enlace permanente

Hello Ahmed,

There is a difference. When followed by the -ing form, like means the same as 'enjoy' - i.e. to like doing something is to have pleasure from it. When followed by 'to + infinitive', like tells us about a preference - i.e. the choice we usually make. For example:

I like swimming in the morning. [It is pleasurable for me]

I like to swim in the morning. [It is what I choose to do]

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter, Thank you very much Read in Charles Dickens' great expectations page#201 seemed very odd so I asked

Hi AbdulMohsin,

A great book by one of the greatest English novelists! I hope you're enjoying it. Language changes all the time, of course, so what was once quite normal can now sound rather strange and that's the case here, I expect.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Everyone, I had begun to be always decorating the chambers in some quite unnecessary ans inappropriate way or other. Read this in a book why to be and decoration has been used ?

Hello AbdulMohsin,

That does not look like a standard sentence to me. A more likely construction would be:

I had begun to decorate the chambers in some quite unnecessary and inappropriate way or other.

However, it is very hard to be sure without knowing the context of the sentence and the author's intention.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Heeru,

This section, our Grammar Reference, is meant to be a reference where you can look up specific grammar points. Although you could work through it page by page, I'd recommend that you use one of the sections under Listen & Watch to work on grammar, vocabulary, reading and listening together.

For example, many users have reported that they've learned a lot using the Elementary Podcasts. Start with Series 1 Episode 1. Listen to the podcast a couple of times and then listen while reading the transcript (look in Instructions & downloads). Make notes of new phrases and practice saying them. Do the exercises and answer the discussion questions. If you work conscientiously, you can learn a lot this way.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

sir,i want to know that.....i would be slapped...what does it mean......does it mean someone should slap me

Hello maxmamun,

The meaning is dependent on the context, which you have not provided here. It looks like it may be part of a conditional form ('I would be slapped if I did that').

For more information on 'would' take a look at this page.

Please note that we ask users to post questions, wherever possible, on related pages as it helps other users find the information later. This page is about -ing forms; your question is about 'would'.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,sir i'n new user in learning English here.i hope,i could some learning this site.after reading,i have one confused here.i hope,you would help me.this sentence 'i can smell something burning'.i don't understand that why used 'can'.i think 'i get smell something burning ' is that sentence correct. please you answer me this problem.

Hello Miraj kefayet,

With verbs of perception (e.g. 'hear', 'see', 'smell', etc.) we don't typically use present continuous forms ('I'm smelling something burning') but rather 'can', as in the sentence you ask about: 'I can smell something burning'. This is simply the way people typically use these verbs.

By the way, it's also possible to say 'I smell something burning' instead of 'I can smell something burning', but 'I get smell something burning' is not correct.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Everyone, I have a few doubts and I hope you could help me. 1. Which one is correct: I'm one step closer to achieve my goal or I'm one step closer to achieving my goal. 2. Which one/ones is/are correct: The best thing you can do is share a smile everyday, The best thing you can do is sharing a smile everyday or The best thing you can do is to share a smile everyday. 3. Is it correct if I say I've got some study to do? 4. Please, could you explain to me the difference between everyday and every day? Regards

Hello majotabares,

1. The second sentence is correct. In this sentence, 'to' is a preposition rather than part of an infinitive and therefore needs to be followed by a noun or a gerund.

2. The first and third sentences are correct, but you cannot use the -ing form here. A verb is needed as the sentence refers to '[the thing] you can do' - i.e. an action, meaning a verb form not a noun form (or a gerund). If the sentence started with, for example, 'The best place you can do' then a noun (a place) would be used.

3. No. After 'some' we need a noun. The correct form her is the gerund 'studying'. This is an uncountable noun and so we use 'some', but if we had a singular countable noun then we need the indefinite article (e.g. 'I have a big job to do').

4. 'Everyday' is an adjective used to describe a noun. It means normal, not special or ordinary. For example, we might say 'My car is nothing special. It's not expensive or flashy - it's just an everyday little car.' The phrase 'every day' is used to describe time and means 'on each day'. For example, we might say 'I use my car to go to work every day'.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teachers can we use to (ing)s after each other? e.g: i'm doing training or as to verbs follow after each other both in (ing) form???

Hi Karzan_Camus,

It is possible to use two -ing forms together like this but note that only one is a verb:

I'm doing (verb - continuous form) training (noun - gerund)

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team


Hello The LearnEnglish Team, I'm a new user and This is my first post. Firstly, I want to thank you for all these brilliant efforts to help users to learn English better. I have a real trouble in understanding -ing forms topic. As explained -ing forms can have any pattern such as 'Object form:I saw a dog chasing a cat.', I thought 'chasing' is doing the role of reduced clause form which is 'a dog chasing a cat = a dog which is chasing a cat'. Could you please shed some light on this problem. Thanks in advance, Eng.Learner

Hello Eng.Learner,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! The -ing form here is used, as you say, as a kind of reduced relative clause. Note, however, that your example is not the same as that in the explanation:

In the explanation the example is: We enjoy learning English.

Here, there object of the verb is 'learning English'.

Your example is: I saw a dog chasing a cat.

Here, the object of the verb is 'a dog', with the -ing form part of a reduced relative clause describing the dog.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M, Thanks for your quick reply. Now, I see 'chasing a cat' is a part of the object 'a dog chasing a cat' which makes sense. Once again, Thank you so much. It helps a lot. Eng.Learner
I found somewhere: "One of my favourite things to do is play my guitar". Is it correct? Shouldn't I say: "One of my favourite things to do is playing my guitar", the ing-form as a noun? Thanks.

Hello Monica68,

Both of these forms are quite commonly used. I suppose we might say that the -ing form is more 'correct' if we were being very pedantic, but both are certainly used.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr Peter, I read every comment here on LE and I just find some examples that are similar but explained in different way. Here you claim that both examples are possible. 1."One of my favourite things to do is play my guitar" 2."One of my favourite things to do is playing my guitar" However, just a few comments above there were an example reffered on "the thing". You said that there were incorrect to use gerund. The sentences are following: The best thing you can do is sharing a smile everyday The best thing you can do is to share a smile everyday. Thank you in advance! Sincerely

Hello swxswx,

Languages are complex systems in which there are rules which form stable systems, but also 'rules' of use, which means that certain forms simply do not sound correct as they would not be used in normal speech by proficient users of the language. This is an example of that. The sentences in the first pair sound fine and I would consider them to be correct in normal language use, while the sentence with the gerund in the second pair sounds clearly unnatural to me. I have checked with other native speakers and they concur: it simply does not sound like natural English, though it is clearly inconsistent.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, in question 9/10 the answer is: "I love watching my son play football". My question is why the verb "play" doesn't include the form for simple present verbs with third person singular "plays". Thanks

Hi TomRiddle,

The verb play is part of the complement here, and is not an independent form, so the present simpe form is not correct. Verbs of perception (e.g. watch, see, hear and others) are typically followed by an object plus either an infinitive (without to) or a verb in the -ing form. The infinitive form implies that the action is general or complete, whereas the -ing form implies that it is incomplete or ongoing.

I hope that clarifies it for you, but please let us know if you have any further questions.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir In this sentence "you can earn a lot of money by working hard" ," by working hard" is gerund or not? , I think It is not gerund because of being adverbial. is it true? And Could you give some explanation about gerund? Thank in advance :)
dear sir, please explain 1 Which of these cars will you buy-the red one or the blue one? 2 What happened? 3 Who is in charge? In these sentences WHICH,WHAT,WHO is INTROGATIVE PRONOUN or INTROGATIVE ADJECTIVE. thanks.

Hello Arvind Kumar Singh,

This page is on the topic of -ing forms. Could you please post your question on a related page, sich as a page about pronouns, for example, and then we'll be happy to answer.

Posting questions on related pages makes it easier for other users to use the site and to benefit from information on topics which they are studying.

Many thanks,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Ahmed, Good news! English doesn't really use grammatical cases, except in a few situations, so you don't need to learn them in this language. Best wishes, Adam The LearnEnglish Team
Thanks What is the difference between these 2 sentences 1. I have to pay rent for her 2. I am having to pay for her rent. Thanks

Hello Abdul,

The forms here are present simple (sentence 1) and present continuous (sentence 2) with the semi-modal verb 'have to'. 'Have to' means you have no choice, similar to 'must'. Sentence 1 suggests that this is a permanent or normal situation which you do not expect to change. Sentence 2 suggests that this is a temporary or unusual situation which is only true for a certain time.

I hope that clarifies it for you. You can find more information on the continuous aspect here.

Hello Thanks for quick reply Can you correct this Sentence: Please follow up payment for Contracting Invoices of march only as trading invoices are paid