An -ing form or gerund-participle is the form taken by a verb with -ing added to the base form (occasionally with some minor spelling changes). These can function used as verbs, nouns or adjectives, and with the addition of -ly as adverbs:
|Ending||Part of speech||Traditional name||Example||Notes|
|-ing||Verb||Present participle||I am writing.||Used to indicate the progressive aspect.|
|Noun||Gerund||Singing is my hobby.||Used for nominalisation.|
|Adjective||Present participial adjective||Grammar is very exciting!||Adjectives can be transformed into adverbs by adding -ly.|
|-ingly||Adverb||Present participial adverb||His chances were vanishingly small.||These adverbs may or may not be included from this group.|
The boundaries between the parts of speech described above are fuzzy. It is often the case that for an example sentence, differing but equally valid analyses are possible. For example: "You are boring" (unclear verb or adjective), "You are very boring" (adjective) "You are boring me" (verb).
Apart from the obvious monosyllables, such as sing, king, etc., not all words ending -ing are gerunds or participles: thing, something, ceiling, whiting and duckling, etc.
One of the very few strict rules in English, i.e. no exception (or debate), is that of the need to use the -ing form of a verb, not its infinitive, after all prepositions. The only possible complication is deciding whether that to in the sentence is a preposition or an infinitive marker, in which case it obviously goes with an infinitive.
- Most verbs add -ing to the infinitive form. See Default below.
- Verbs ending in e replace e by ing: like - liking; recieve - receiving
- Verbs "dye" and "singe" don't drop the e: dyeing, singeing /ˈsɪndʒɪŋ/
- In British English the "-ing" form of "age" is spelled "aging" or "ageing"BrE
- Verbs ending in one stressed vowel + one consonant (except w, x or y) double the consonant and add -ing: planning; stopping; referring; controlling;
- Verbs ending in -c add king: picknicking; trafficking;
- Verbs ending in ie change their ending to "ying": die - dying; lie - lying; tie - tying;
- Default. All other verbs add -ing.
- Ending in one or more vowels (except final e): mooing; skiing;
- Ending in two or more consonants: depending; pushing; starting;
- Ending in two or more vowels + one consonant: explaining; raining;
- Ending in one unstressed vowel + one consonant: editing; offering;
- See exceptions above (program, and verbs ending in "l")
- Ending in w, x or y: playing; enjoying; copying; flying; showing; taxing;
See main article present participle.
See main article Gerund.
A gerund is a noun, corresponding in most cases to an action or activity, such as smoking, reading or many sports (not games), such as swimming, weightlifting and fencing.
-ing form or infinitive
- There are a number of verbs that can be followed by an -ing form or an infinitive, but there may be, in some cases, differences in meaning:
- like (love, hate, prefer, can't stand/bear). I like to play; I like playing
- start (begin, stop, continue). I started to eat; I started eating
- allow (permit, forbid)
- see (watch, hear)
- forget (remember)
- try (intend, propose, advise)
- There are a number of verbs that are normally followed by an -ing form:
- can't help
- feel like. I feel like dancing
- look forward to
- There are a number of verbs that are normally followed by an infinitive:
- expect. I expect to go
See main article Used to.
One especially clear case is the difference between used to + infinitive vs be used to + -ing form, at least regarding the structure (i.e. with be + used to we use the -ing form).
There are a number of frequently used adjectives that students should be made familiar with: amusing - annoying - boring - disappointing - exciting - frightening - interesting - shocking - surprising - terrifying - tiring - worrying. Care should be taken to avoid eventual confusion between, for example, be worrying and be worried, and, most especially be bored vs be boring, as in I'm bored... ing