'-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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Soumis par amrita_enakshi le ven 06/04/2018 - 15:16

Hello sir, in the following sentence does 'watching' act as a noun and 'soothing' as an adjective (soothing sunset) or should soothing be considered a part of the finite verb is? Thus , 'watching' as nonfinite(gerund) and 'is soothing' as finite. •Watching the sun set at the beach is soothing to eyes. Thank you.

Hi amrita,

Yes, 'watching' is a gerund (a noun derived from a verb) and 'soothing' is an adjective. The structure of the sentence is a simple copula: 'X is Y'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par amrita_enakshi le jeu 05/04/2018 - 21:42

Sir , in the following sentence , can you please tell me if 'hurt' and 'ill-fated' are both Non finite ( past participles ) ? The hurt passengers of the ill-fated train were admitted to the nearby hospital .

Hello amrita_enakshi,

The words have the form of past participles but are functioning as adjectives in the sentence.



The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par mehransam05 le jeu 05/04/2018 - 20:51

Hi I am really confused about "ing" form when it is used as a gerund or as a verbal noun or as an adjective in a sentence. I want an article to separate these and help me. For example in this: "Game changing delivery" (why not game change delivery or changing game delivery) what is the structure and meaning(or maybe mean) of every word in the sentence above especially "ing: ? Where do we use verbal nouns in a sentence and what is used before and after that(ex:adjective or noun)? There are a lot of phrase in ing forms and I am really not know about the structure of ing form so I am really confused. Thanks in advance.

Soumis par Peter M. le sam 07/04/2018 - 06:22

En réponse à par mehransam05


Hi mehransam05,

The phrase 'game-changing delivery' (it is usually hypenated) has a compound adjective (game-changing) modifying a noun (delivery).

English is a very flexible language and a word fulfil many different roles in the sentence. To identify which role an ing-form has you need to look at the sentence in which it is used. This is why we provide the examples on this page. If the ing-form is the subject or object in the sentence then it is acting as a noun. If it describes a noun then it is acting as an adjective.



The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par lexeus le lun 02/04/2018 - 02:30

Hi Team Could you please tell me what the -ing forms 'learning' and 'knowing' function as in the following sentence: Her parents said that learning English meant she would be able to make friends with people all over the world, and knowing Spanish meant that she could talk to grandma Garcia, who could not speak English. Would it be correct to say they are gerunds? Thanks for your help, Lexeus

Soumis par Kirk le lun 02/04/2018 - 07:21

En réponse à par lexeus


Hello Lexeus,

The two forms you ask about function as nouns, and yes, they are gerunds, i.e. words formed from verbs that are used as nouns.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par mehransam05 le sam 31/03/2018 - 16:28

Hi What is the differences between these in meaning and usage: 1) A)a moving vehicle B)a movement vehicle 2) A)cementation damage B)cementing damage 3) A)treatment fluid B)treating fluid Thanks

Soumis par Kirk le sam 31/03/2018 - 18:23

En réponse à par mehransam05


Hi mehransam05,

1a is an acceptable collocation (word combination) in standard British English, but 1b is not. A moving vehicle is a vehicle that is moving at the time you're talking about.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with any of the other word combinations. If I had some idea what they meant, then I could recommend one over the other, but without some context I can't really say. Sorry.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Anshu le mar 13/03/2018 - 16:00

Sir, you mentioned that the '-ing' form of the verb can be used as an adjective. In the example given- "He saw a woman lying on the floor ". Isnt lying a verb here and not an adjective?

Hello Anshu,

The phrase 'lying on the floor' here is adjectival as it describes the noun phrase 'a woman'. You can think of it as a reduced relative clause:

He saw a woman (who was) lying on the floor.

The -ing form is formed from a verb but in this sentence it has an adjectival function.


Note that this use of the -ing form comes after the noun, not before. Thus:

He saw a woman lying on the floor - correct

He saw a lying on the floor woman - incorrect



The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ibrahemyacoup le lun 05/02/2018 - 16:45

hi which one is correct ? 1. governments are looking to rein in capital spending in the wake of the collapse in oil prices . 2. governments are looking to rein in spending capital in the wake of the collapse in oil prices . thanks in advance