'-ing' forms

Learn about the -ing form of a verb and do the exercises to practise using it.

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

ReorderingHorizontal_MTY0Mzg=

-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

ReorderingHorizontal_MTY0Mzk=

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTY0NDA=

-ing form as a noun or adjective 2

GapFillTyping_MTY0NDE=

Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Hi Alexandre,

Traditionally, begin to do is used when describing a particular action:

I jumped over the side of the boat and began to swim to shore.

 

Begin doing is tradionally used with a more general meaning:

I began swimming when I was five years old.

 

However, this distinction is disappearing in modern English. I think most people today use the two forms interchangeably. In your example I don't think there is any difference between them.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Sakura30 le lun 03/08/2020 - 04:59

Permalien
Hello, I’m having trouble figuring out who was justified of what in the following sentence. This is a scene from the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. Gibson: You didn’t happen to find anything in this brush, did you? Bob: Nothing much. Gibson: Yeah but enough to justify somebody kidnapping your child to keep your mouth shut. Thank you so much in advance for your kind support!
Profile picture for user Kirk

Soumis par Kirk le lun 03/08/2020 - 13:15

En réponse à par Sakura30

Permalien

Hello Sakura30,

Here the idea is that since Bob's child has been kidnapped, he must have found something significant in the brush. In other words, the kidnapping doesn't make sense if Bob really found nothing in the brush.

So here 'justify somebody kidnapping your child' means something like 'explain why somebody would kidnap your child'.

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk Thank you so much for your reply. Please excuse me to ask a little further. If I were to rewrite the above sentence, which would it be? ”Yeah, (it must have been nothing much,) but (something which is) enough to justify somebody kidnapping your child to keep your mouth shut) ” meaning that it was a good reason for somebody to kidnap the child. Or “Yeah, but (there was) enough (of something inside for you) to justify somebody kidnapping your child” meaning that Bob knows why his child was kidnapped. What I’m confused here is, who was Justified? Is it Bob or the Somebody(kidnapper)? Thank you again, for your kind attention Sakura30
Profile picture for user Kirk

Soumis par Kirk le mar 04/08/2020 - 16:00

En réponse à par Sakura30

Permalien

Hello again Sakura30,

I'm afraid it's difficult for me to say which one is meant without knowing more about the film, but what I understood when I first read it was the first explanation.

I don't get the sense that anyone is justified (in the sense of being right) here. I think 'justify' means something like 'give a reasonable explanation for' in this case. In other words, the kidnappers had a reasonable reason for kidnapping Gibson's child (assuming that they are more concerned about their self-interest than Gibson's or his child's), but this doesn't mean it was justified -- it is, after all, a crime.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par sejal thakur le lun 01/06/2020 - 10:47

Permalien
Could you please explain how can we use "meant to or meant to be " ? i am perplexed .

Hello sejal thakur

This means 'to be intended to'. If you look at the third entry (INTEND) for 'mean' in the Cambridge Dictionary (follow the link), you'll see a light blue box with this definition and some example sentences. There's also another explanation on this grammar page.

Best wishes

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ryuo le mar 19/05/2020 - 19:27

Permalien
Hello, When do we use "of"? what is the rule of using "of" with "-ing" words? For example: "visiting of parents is allowed in the afternoon" vs "visiting parents is allowed in the afternoon". Thank you.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Soumis par Peter M. le mer 20/05/2020 - 07:56

En réponse à par ryuo

Permalien

Hello ryuo,

In your examples, there is a big difference in meaning:

visiting parents means people are coming in order to visit their parents. You might say this if the parents are in hospital, for example.

visiting of parents suggests that it is the parents who are doing the visiting. You might say this if the parents have a child in hospital, for example.

 

More generally, the phrase with of shows a possessive relationship, while in the phrase without of we have a direct object. Which is the better option really depends upon the particular example, the context and the speaker's intention.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Tossa le mar 21/04/2020 - 03:48

Permalien
Hello, please help me. I don't understand why in the next sentence "I love watching my son play football" the verb play is without s.

Hello Tossa,

The verb watch is an example of a verb of perception. These verbs describe something we see, hear, feel etc. They have three common constructions:

 

verb of perception + object + bare infinitive

I heard her sing a song.

This means that the speaker heard the whole song from start to finish.

 

verb of perception + object + -ing form

I heard her singing a song.

This means that the speaker heard part of the song; she was in the middle of singing it.

 

 

verb of perception + object + past participle

I saw her arrested by the police.

This has a passive meaning: she was arrested by the police.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par John Mccan le lun 11/11/2019 - 07:39

Permalien
Please confirm 1. In sentence "what is the meaning", is meaning a Verbal noun, It doesn't seem a gerund or Is meaning a base word (noun) not derived from verb mean? 2. Are there any ing words which are noun in their base form.

Hello John Mccan

That is a question that a historical linguist or lexicographer might be able to help you with, but I'm afraid I'm not completely sure. My sense is that the noun 'meaning' is not a gerund because its meaning is far from a verbal noun.

There are many similar words or words that end in 'ing' which do not seem to be derived from verbs -- a few examples are 'acting', 'advertising', 'fundraising', 'evening', 'timing', 'gaming', 'handwriting', and many more.

That's not a very precise explanation, but I hope it helps you.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par cindymaria le dim 29/09/2019 - 09:43

Permalien
Hello, could you help me... In this sentence, She told me that you sent her an email telling her that you would like to have more pen pals from the US. what is the function of the -ing form of the word telling? I am confused...

Hello cindymaria

That is an '-ing' form used to create a reduced relative clause. It could also be written 'an email that told her that ...' -- 'telling' replaces 'that told'. This is an advanced use that is not explained on this page, but I'm sure you can find more information about it if you do an internet search.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Micicica le dim 15/09/2019 - 11:56

Permalien
Hi! Can the sentence "She enjoys cooking." be transformed in the passive voice "Cooking is enjoyed by her."

Hello Micicia,

Grammatically, yes. However, it seems a very odd sentence and I cannot think of a context in which you would want or need to say this.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Sep80 le sam 10/08/2019 - 21:16

Permalien
Hello Could you please help me with my question? I would like to know if the following sentences are correct: He analyzed it interesting. (to mean he analyzed something in an interesting way.) He did/expressed/used it interesting. (to mean he did/expressed/used it in an interesting way.) I know that I can use "interesting" after link verbs and also sentences like "I found it interesting" are correct. But do my examples make sense? And if they are wrong please tell me how I can express the same meaning correctly. Thank you in advance.
Profile picture for user Kirk

Soumis par Kirk le lun 12/08/2019 - 22:34

En réponse à par Sep80

Permalien

Hello Sep80

Those sentences are not correct in standard British English. Some people might understand your meaning, but I think many might not. I think the simplest way to express your ideas is in the way you have explained them already: 'He analysed it in an interest way', or for the second one you could also say 'He did/said something interesting'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Jonathan le mer 07/08/2019 - 12:09

Permalien
Hello, Is the -ing form of the verb, ‘laugh’ in the sentence below a noun? If yes, kindly give me the reason. If no, what is it? Sentence: What are you laughing about? Thanks, Jonathan
Profile picture for user Kirk

Soumis par Kirk le jeu 08/08/2019 - 08:47

En réponse à par Jonathan

Permalien

Hello Jonathan

In this case, 'laughing' is a present participle. It is part of the present continuous verb 'you are laughing', which in a question is 'are you laughing'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Soumis par Risa warysha le jeu 13/06/2019 - 05:19

Permalien
Hi,Sir. Could you tell me the difference between these two sentences 1. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo. 2. Amelia Eahart became the first woman flying solo. From the sentence, which one is the more appropriate, using to fly or flying? Thank you.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 13/06/2019 - 07:42

En réponse à par Risa warysha

Permalien

Hi Risa warysha,

The correct form here is 'to fly'.

We can use verb-ing in this kind of sentence to explain how a person achieved something. For example:

John earned a lot of money acting in science-fiction films.

Here, 'acting in science fiction films' explains how John earned a lot of money.

 

Your second sentence would mean that flying solo was how Amelia Earhart became the first woman, which obviously does not make sense. There were a lof women before Amelia Earhart!

 

You can read more about this structure on this page:

Participle clauses

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par SURIGI JHANSEE le mar 02/04/2019 - 15:45

Permalien
In the sentence "he started practising ahimsa" .Here we know that ahimsa is a noun.Please clarify whether practising is noun or adjective?
Hello Surigi Jhansee In this case, 'practising' is a gerund, i.e. the noun form of the verb 'practise'. Since the gerund is a kind of verb form, it can have an object (here, it is 'ahimsa'). It might be useful to point out that in British English, 'practise' is a verb and 'practice' is a noun. In American English, both forms are spelled with a 'c', i.e. 'practice' is the spelling for both verbs and nouns. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par CIJO le jeu 15/11/2018 - 15:28

Permalien
I Learnt That Verbal Adjectives Make Use Of The Past Participle Or Present Participle Of A Verb, In Sentences. When Should Know When To Use The Present Or Past Participle In Sentences. For Example: (1) Her Crying Attitude Appauls Me. Why Not The Past Participle "Cried". (2) To Live In The Days Of Fallen Heroes Are Unbearable. Why Not The Present Participle "Falling". (Though Out Of Context, Am I Supposed To Put A Period After A Quotation Mark?)

Hello CIJO,

You can find a general explanation of this on our Adjectives with -ing and -ed page, though it also depends on the specific adjective you are using.

Please note that not all present participles and past participles are used as adjectives, and sometimes they have a meaning that is different from the meaning of the verb. For example, 'crying' means 'needing urgent attention'. I would probably say something like 'her whiny attitude' instead.

'fallen heroes' is correct. 'falling' would have a present meaning and 'fallen' has a past meaning, which is appropriate here.

Where exactly a full stop is put after a quotation is a matter of style, i.e. sometimes it is put inside and other times outside.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par sunsetlover le jeu 15/11/2018 - 07:26

Permalien
Hello team, You have a good, useful site here. But I think you need to expand on this section here. I'm a native English speaker and I think this must be one of the most difficult parts of English grammar. For example, grammatically speaking, there's no such thing as "-ing verb form". It's either a gerund or a present participle. And to confuse matters even more, it can be a pure adjective or a pure noun. For example: "Shouting loudly is rude". (shouting here is a gerund, "shouting loudly" acting as a noun and the subject). "I saw a man shouting at the store clerk" (shouting here is a present participle, acting as an adjective modifying "a man") "Loud shouting is not good manners (shouting here is a pure noun, modified by an adjective, correct?) "The shouting match lasted for half an hour". (shouting here is a pure adjective?) And what about "it was a very exciting game". Is "exciting" a pure adjective here or a present participle? I was under the impression that if we take the present participle of many/most verbs, they become an adjective by themselves (i.e. "to excite"-->"exciting"). Thank you in advance for any feedback.

Hello sunsetlover,

Thanks for your comment. We are in the process of revising the English grammar section and hope to be able to publish the new version in the next few months. So please keep your eye out for this update.

This section, as well as the revised version we are working on, were written to serve as a general reference on what its writer (Dave Willis) considered to be the most essential English grammar for learners. It is not intended to be comprehensive and, as you've noted, doesn't always use technical terms which he did not consider essential to learning to use the language (as opposed to describing it or parsing it for more specialist use).

As for your questions, we don't normally go into this level of detail but I'll tell you what I think. I agree with your first three statements. As for the fourth, I'm honestly not sure, though I'd probably say that it's a gerund being used adjectivally, i.e. as a sort of noun + noun combination with 'match'. Finally, I'd say 'exciting' is a pure adjective in this case.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ali shah le mar 13/11/2018 - 11:10

Permalien
Sir, I didn't get reply for this one. Please respond to this query. Thanking you in advance. 'Reasonably good research exists about the muslim bourgeoisie anchoring 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.

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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Goktug123 le dim 11/11/2018 - 20:31

Permalien
Hello, 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.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Soumis par Peter M. le lun 12/11/2018 - 07:57

En réponse à par Goktug123

Permalien

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.

 

Peter

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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ali shah le dim 11/11/2018 - 10:46

Permalien
'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.

Soumis par ali shah le dim 11/11/2018 - 10:36

Permalien
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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ali shah le lun 08/10/2018 - 06:49

Permalien
"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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ali shah le dim 07/10/2018 - 08:46

Permalien
''Since the restoration of judges under the Congress government, it was thought that independent courts would safeguard citizen rights and also protect democracy.'' Is it okay to use 'since' in the above structure as we use 'since' in the Present Perfect and Perfect Continuous tense, and instead of 'because' etc?

Hello ali shah,

'since' has several meanings. One speaks about reason (similar to 'because of') and the other about time. In this case, 'since' speaks about time and so replacing it with 'because' would change the meaning.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Lal le lun 10/09/2018 - 10:14

Permalien
Hello Sir Please let me know whether I have understood the difference between 'going to' and verb plus ing correctly. e.g. I am going to buy a car soon. I am buying a car soon. The first is my intention, a plan or an idea. I might not do it. The second is I have organised it. I have seen the car and I have paid an advance, too. Very soon I will pay the balance and buy it. If I am wrong please let me know the right way of using these forms. Thank you. Regards Lal
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Soumis par Peter M. le mar 11/09/2018 - 06:23

En réponse à par Lal

Permalien

Hello Lal,

I think that is a good summary. Going to describes an intention, while be + verbing (the present continuous) is used for things that we consider to be already in progress.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Sash

Soumis par Sash le ven 08/06/2018 - 16:39

Permalien
Hello! I would like to ask why do we use 'need convincing' here. I know the verb need should be followed by an infinitive. Is this something different? If you are a dog lover, you won't need convincing that dogs are intelligent beings with thoughts.

Hi Sash,

In British English, a verb in the -ing form is routinely used after the verb 'need' to communicate a passive meaning. See the dictionary entry (follow the link) for a definition and examples of this. In this case, you could rephrase it as 'you won't need to be convinced that' or 'we won't need to convince you that'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par acorreia le ven 08/06/2018 - 13:12

Permalien
Hello everyone! I have a question about "ing forms" after prepositions. Do we use "ing" after any preposition? Which sentence below is grammatically correct? 1)- I am too young to understand. 2)- I am too young for understanding. Thanks a lot!