'-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 Soham33,

Yes, in some contexts, but not in all. Could you give an example of what you mean?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Sibtid Pocachang le mar 30/08/2016 - 17:33

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Hi again! The present participle can only act as an adjective or a verb. Is this a true statement? This is how I understand the lesson above. Thank you very much.

Soumis par Peter M. le mer 31/08/2016 - 07:15

En réponse à par Sibtid Pocachang

Permalien

Hi Sibtid Pocachang,

Not quite. Participles can have an adverbial role too. For examples, see this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Participial phrases have been especially difficult for me to understand. That page you recommended was spot on.

Soumis par Agape77 le jeu 25/08/2016 - 16:06

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Thanks. I've looked both "deception" and "deceit" in the Cambridge dictionary. This dictionary appears to use both words interchangeably. However, I also did an internet search as you requested and I found a difference in meaning on google search - in deceit, there is an intention to deceive whereas in deception, there isn't an intention to deceive although the ultimate result is deception.

Soumis par Agape77 le mar 23/08/2016 - 07:40

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Please, permit me to ask one or two questions: a) When people say they are humbled while giving a victory speech, what exactly are they trying to say? Do they mean that they do not think they're very important to deserve the victory? For example: "The President said he was humbled by the trust of the electorate ." b) What's the difference between these pairs of nouns? -Deceit and Deception. Do "deceit" and "deception" mean the same thing? -Hate and hatred. (I've seen the word "hate" being used as a noun. Is it a synonym of "hatred"?). I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

Hello Agape77,

As for your first question, yes, that is the general idea.

As for your other questions, have you looked up these words in the dictionary? For example, you can find both 'deceit' and 'deception' in the Cambridge Dictionary. That may not always be helpful - you could also try to find useful ideas about such questions by doing an internet search such as 'what's the difference between deceit and deception'.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Peace95 le mar 23/08/2016 - 07:04

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Hello Sir, I have two quick questions I'd like you to help me with. 1) Which of these two sentences is the grammatically correct one? I'd like to understand how to correctly use the words "titled" and "entitled". "My message this morning is titled 'Benefits of hard work'." "My message this morning is entitled 'Benefits of hard work'." 2) What's the difference between "I heard him sing last night" and "I heard him singing" last night? Are both sentences grammatically correct? Same goes for "I saw him fight" versus "I say him fighting." Thank you.

Hello Peace95,

The words 'titled' and 'entitled' are interchangeable when the meaning is 'is called'. 'Entitled' can have another meaning, but in this context there is no difference between them.

'I heard him sing last night' - I listened to the whole performance.

'I heard him singing last night' - I caught some part of it, but not the whole performance.

The -ing form here tells us that the action was in progress rather than being a complete action.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Peace95 le ven 05/08/2016 - 08:05

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Hi, I have a quick question. Should we use singular or plural noun after the plural phrase "types of/kinds of." Is there any specific rule? Do let me know if this statement is correct: "I have three types of car." "There are four kinds of bird in my garden." I guess it's okay to use the plural nouns "cars" and "birds" with the plural phrase "types of /kinds of", but I was wondering if it is also okay to use the singular "car" and "bird" after the plural "types of/kinds of" as in the above sentences. Have a great day.

Soumis par Kirk le ven 05/08/2016 - 14:41

En réponse à par Peace95

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Hello Peace95,

Different people will give you different answers to this question, i.e. both the singular and plural can be used. Personally, I'd probably say 'types of cars' and 'kinds of birds', but I'm sure you could find others who'd prefer the singular.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Peace95 le ven 29/07/2016 - 14:12

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hello, I have just read your response to Tomi's question on the meaning of the phrase "As you say.." which people often use in discussions. I too have had a hard time understanding what these sort of phrases ("As you say", "As I say", etc.) really mean in a discussion. I've searched several dictionaries but I can't find any information on these phrases. But I hear it every now and then on BBC News from BBC reporters. In your response to Tomi's question, you said the phrase "As you say" suggests an opinion held by the other person. Does this imply that it has to be a habitual saying or a long-standing opinion of the person? Is there a sense in which the phrase "As you say"/"As I say" could be used when one wishes to repeat something they just said a few moments earlier (not necessarily a long-standing opinion)? This seems to be the sense that I am getting from the way it is used on the news (but I can't be absolutely sure if I am right). When I listen to news, I hear a reporter say something and a few moments later, he says "As I say" and then repeats what he said not too long ago. So, I am wondering whether this phrase is used in the simple present when one wants to repeat what they said a few seconds/minutes earlier, or whether it is a way of referring to a long-standing opinion that one has always held, something that one has often said again and again over a long period of time. Thank you.

Soumis par Peter M. le sam 30/07/2016 - 07:45

En réponse à par Peace95

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Hello Peace95,

People use 'As you say' to refer both to general opinions and to what was just said, while 'As you said' can only refer to a previous utterance. In other words 'As you say' has a broader use.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Tomi le lun 25/07/2016 - 07:50

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Hello, Please, I'd like you to help me with the following: 1) What does "As you say," really mean in a discussion? I hear people say it when discussing with others. Why don't they use "As you said" instead of "As you say"? How do I know when to use "As you say" and when to use "As you said"? 2) Also, what does "I am told" mean? What's the difference between: "I am told", "I have been told", and "I was told". When should we use one and not the other? 3) Which of the following cleft sentences is the grammatically correct one? "It's me who is responsible for this success." "It's me who am responsible for this success." Is it acceptable for for the first person singular (me) to be followed by the verb "is" instead of "am"? If neither of the above two sentences is correct, is there a better way to construct the sentence? *Also, which of these is the correct way to ask the question: -Is it me? -Is it I? 4) Finally, when using the world "being", what type of pronoun should be used along with it? For example: "I can't stand him/his being so rude." Here, should we use "him" or "his"? "As a result of him/his being rude, our flight was delayed." Should the pronoun be "him" or "his"? "We appreciate you/your coming to our school." Should I use "you" or "your"? "We appreciate them/their contacting us." Should I use "them" or "their"? Thank you so much for your time. Tomi.

Soumis par Peter M. le mar 26/07/2016 - 07:06

En réponse à par Tomi

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Hello Tomi,

I'm afraid it's not really possible for us to answer so many questions for each user. Our primary role here is to maintain the site and add new material. We also try to provide support and help regarding the information on our pages. When time allows we deal with other questions too, but we can't answer multiple in-depth questions on topics unrelated to our own materials in the comments sections. These are questions for your teacher, whose job it is (or would be) to give you this kind of support. I will give you brief answers to your questions below, but it's not possible for us to provide what would be in effect online lessons here.

1) Both 'say' and 'said' are possible. The first suggests an opinion held by the other person, the latter a reference to one specific statement. I can't comment on how something may or may not have been used in a conversation I have not heard.

2) These are questions about tenses and their use. Please look at the relevant pages in our Verbs section, but remember that the context is also crucial to their use and meaning.

3) The verb's subject is 'who' and therefore the correct form is the third person 'is'. In modern English 'Is it me?' is standard rather than 'Is it I?', which sounds stilted and archaic.

4) Both the possessive adjective ('his') and the object pronoun ('him') are used in these sentences. Grammatically speaking, I would say that the possessive adjective is the correct form, but both are used in everyday speech.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm sorry I sent multiple questions. I really appreciate your time in responding despite the multiplicity of questions. I found your answers very helpful indeed. I understood the answers you provided for all four questions except the first one on "As you say". I will try to do more research to enable me better understand it. Thanks.

Soumis par Agape77 le dim 24/07/2016 - 06:30

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Dear Sir/Madam, Could you kindly clarify the following for me? 1) Is it correct to use "It's" followed by a plural noun? Here is an example in a conversation between two people: John: "Who ate my lunch?" Mary: "It's the kids." (That is, it's the kids who ate your lunch.) In the above conversation, is it correct to say "it's the kids?" Shouldn't "it's" be followed by a singular noun rather than a plural noun? Another example would be a sentence like "It's your parents who provided it." If I want to read more about this topic, under what English subject would I find it? 2) What's the difference between NOTE and NOTICE when both words are used as verbs? I sometimes find it confusing. For example, what's the difference between the following pairs of sentences? a. "I noticed it" AND "I noted it." b. "I took notice of it" AND "I took note of it." 3) What's the difference between "CONTENT" and "CONTENTED" when used as verbs? Do they mean the same thing? For example: "James is content" and "James is contented". Thank you so much.

Hello Agape77,

1) Yes, it is perfectly fine to use this. The structure is a form of relative clause called a cleft sentence which is used to add emphasis. I don't think we have a page devoted to this structure but you can find more information here, here and here, for example.

2) In many contexts there is little difference. Generally, 'notice' means simply that a person sees something, while 'note' suggests that they pay attention to it and remember it (or even note it down) for later reference. In other words 'note' suggests that the detail was important - or noteworthy - in some way.

3) As far as I know there is no difference in usage between 'content' and 'contented'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Hemant sharma le dim 17/07/2016 - 09:18

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Hello sir here are many problems i face where to use to infinitive or Gerund or bare infinitive verbs like see feel hear notice observe etc. As pr my information notice is followed by Gerund and bare infinitive how can i make this difference ... can u plz send a lost of some verbs which are followed by gerund or infinitive

Hello Hemant sharma,

If you look a bit further down the menu for the Verbs section on the right side of this page, you'll see there are three pages that provide lists of common verbs and the forms that go after them:

There I think you'll find what you need. You can also find this information in the dictionary, e.g. look up 'notice' and you'll see definitions and examples of how it's used in different contexts.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par namalmkw le ven 24/06/2016 - 15:11

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Sir I'm Namal Weerasekara from Sri Lanka .Could you please tell me following sentence is it correct " I'd like to cooking something for dinner.''

Hello Namal Weerasekara,

I'm afraid that sentence is not correct. After 'I'd like' we use [to + base form]:

I'd like to cook something for dinner.

This means that the speaker will be cooking something. If you want to ask someone to cook something for you thent he sentence would be a little different:

I'd like you to cook something (for me) for dinner.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Marv.Smith le sam 18/06/2016 - 16:09

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It seems that there is a technical problem with this exercise. (Reorder the words to make correct sentences). We cannot drag the words into the boxes. Thanks.

Hello Marv.Smith,

Rather than dragging the words simply click on one and then click on the box in which you think it should go. Please let me know if the exercise works for you when you do it this way.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par manuel24 le jeu 09/06/2016 - 12:21

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hello, could somebody tell me if the follow sentence is it correct? -they agreed to her going with us.

Soumis par Kiki le mer 08/06/2016 - 12:29

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Hello! I need help, please! If I say "bad working conditions" , the word "working" is classified as an adjective, isn't it? Or am I wrong? Another question! Is the sentence "I've never met anyone like her." correct? I've used "anyone" because of the negative adverb "never". Is it possible to use "someone" too? Thanks!!! Anxiously waiting for the replies!

Hello Kiki,

The phrase 'bad working conditions' can be analysed in a number of ways, but I think the most helpful way to think of it is as an adjective ('bad') modifying a compound noun ('working conditions'). Many compound nouns are adjective-noun combinations which become fixed over time, such as 'coffee table', 'postman' and 'textbook'. I don't think it's helpful to think of 'working' as a separate adjective here.

'Anyone' is the most common indefinite pronoun to use in this example. However, it is not a grammatical rule that you cannot use 'someone' with negative verb forms and it is correct, if unusual, to use 'someone' here. In general, we use 'any' when we consider that a negative answer is possible or likely, and 'some' when a positive answer is possible or likely. For example:

Do you have any money? [the speaker expects, or is allowing the possibility of, a negative answer]

Do you have some money? [the speaker thinks the answer will be 'yes']

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm sorry, I made a mistake the question I want to know if is correct is: "Is there any soda in the fridge?"

Soumis par manuel24 le mar 07/06/2016 - 17:13

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Hello everybody, I found the follow sentence in another site: In class today, Abubakr admitted to feeling sleepy during lessons sometimes I would like to know why there is not the ing form after admitted as it would be

Hello manuel24,

Generally, we do not comment on examples from elsewhere, particuarly from other sites which may not have the same standard of language as we do.

'Admit' can be followed by a gerund or noun:

He admitted making a mistake.

He admitted his mistake.

It can also be followed by 'to' (a preposition) and a gerund or noun:

He admitted to making a mistake.

He admitted to his mistake.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Agape77 le mer 18/05/2016 - 21:53

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Hello, Kindly permit me to ask a few questions: 1) What's the difference between "As you say" and "as you said". I often hear people use the expression "as you say" when discussing with another person. Why not use "as you said" instead of "as you say"? When should one use "As you say" and not "As you said"? 2) What's the difference between: "I am told", "I have been told", and "I was told". When should we use one and not the other? In particular, why do we use "I am told" instead of "I was told" or "I have been told"? Does "I am told" imply that I am still being told up to this present moment? 3) Commonplace and Common. What's the difference between these two words? If you say something is common, does that mean it is also commonplace? Are all common things also commonplace and vice versa? Thanks for your time.

Soumis par Kirk le jeu 19/05/2016 - 13:48

En réponse à par Agape77

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Hello Agape77,

For 1 and 2, in general, the difference between these expression is the difference between the verb forms used in them ('say' and 'am told' being present simple, 'said' and 'was told' being past simple and 'have been told' being present perfect), though, as you rightly observe, sometimes they are used in the same context with the same apparent meaning. It's a lot to explain without specific examples, but to give you an idea, the present simple forms here can refer, for example to an utterance from just a minute ago, which is, strictly speaking, the past, but which could be regarded as the present since it's part of the current conversation. The present simple is sometimes also used to speak about the past when we're telling stories, which is a way of trying to make the events of the story more real. 

Have you looked up 'common' and 'commonplace' in the dictionary? They are quite similar in meaning, though the second one has a hint of a judgement in it since it means that something is considered ordinary, not special.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Amybold le sam 23/04/2016 - 00:07

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Hello, Thank you for the detailed information in the post. I want to ask if the following sentence is right or wrong. "We selling our wines in retail price." I have found this on brochure of a restaurant and told it is a wrong sentence. However my friend is insisting on it is possible to use verb + ing right after "we" in a simple sentence structure. She says its right because she lived in English-speaking country for a long time and this is possible. I have been studying English for a long time and never encountered this sentence structure. I am semi confident that is wrong but I am very confused. Any insight will be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Soumis par Kirk le sam 23/04/2016 - 08:09

En réponse à par Amybold

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Hello Amybold,

Native speakers in some places speak quite differently from what is standard. While it's quite possible that your friend heard the form you ask about in many instances – it's also possible that the 're (as in 'we're selling') was very faint and she didn't hear it – I would discourage you (and most any non-native speaker) from using it. If a native speaker uses a non-standard form, it's generally considered just a different variety of English, but if a non-native speaker uses a non-standard form, it's generally considered wrong! If I were producing a brochure about a wine shop, I'd say 'We sell our wines ...'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par redsuse le mar 29/03/2016 - 23:22

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Hello. I've some doubts in the "ing form". For instance in this two sentences below why should the "ing form" be used? " Of course you can bring your girlfriend. We're looking forward to (meet or metting??) her" "Our children are used to (sleep or spleeping???). nine hours a night" Kind regards

Soumis par Kirk le mer 30/03/2016 - 07:46

En réponse à par redsuse

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Hello redsuse,

The -ing form of a verb is used when a verb form follows a preposition. In both of these sentences, 'to' is a preposition (and not part of an infinitive), which is why the verbs are in the -ing form. It's not always easy to tell whether 'to' is a preposition or an infinitive – it's something you have to study. Here, for example, you should make a note that 'to' in both 'look forward to' and 'be used to' is a preposition (and thus if a verb follows them, it should go in the -ing form).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par manuel24 le mer 16/03/2016 - 15:18

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hello, I found these sentences: - Our teacher won't allow us to use dictionaries during the test. -The city doesn't allow parking along curbs painted red. why is there not -ing form in the first one and vice versa?

Hello manuel,

I'd recommend you look up 'allow' in the dictionary and that you study the example sentences there. I think this will clarify how it's used for you, but if you have any specific questions about it afterwards, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par manuel24 le lun 14/03/2016 - 16:02

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hello, "We regret to inform you that your position at the company is being eliminated".. I don't understand the grammatical structure of this sentence , what does mean "is being"?

Soumis par manuel24 le lun 14/03/2016 - 11:35

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Hello, what's the reason for using -ing form in this sentences? -Can you feel the spider crawling up your back? -Do you mind opening the window? -It's no problem picking you up at 9 o'clock.

Hello manuel24,

You have three quite different sentences here.

In the first one, the -ing form is a present participle (a verb form) which describes the noun in a similar way to a relative clause: Can you feel the spider (which is) crawling up your back?

The second sentence has a gerund (a noun) which is the object of 'mind'. You can replace this with other nouns:

Do you mind opening the window?

Do you mind the music, or should I turn it off?

The third sentence is an example of inversion for emphasis:

It's no problem picking you up at 9 o'clock.

Picking you up at 9 o'clock is no problem.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par manuel24 le jeu 10/03/2016 - 16:31

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Hello, how does to recognize(please correct me if the structure is wrong) if "to" is a preposition or part of infinite?

Hello manuel,

There is no easy way to do this. You have to look at the words before and after 'to' to know how it is being used. It's a good idea to learn what prepositions are typically used with adjectives and phrases when you study them. For example, 'to look forward to' is a very common phrase in which 'to' is a preposition; that's why we say 'I look forward to seeing you' (not 'to see you'). It's important to learn that 'to' is a preposition in this case when studying this form. With time and patience, it gets easier!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par manuel24 le jeu 10/03/2016 - 11:16

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hello, are there correct these sentences?why is there not the ing form? When will she start to take this seriously? The chocolate will start to melt if you don't put it in the fridge... If you don't start to change now, soon it will be too late

Hello manuel24,

Some verbs in English can be followed by both the '-ing form' and the infintive, and there may be a difference in meaning. For more information on these, see this page and this page.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team