Download Present participles, gerunds and `–ing`

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Present participles, gerunds and ‘–ing’
The –ing forms can be used not only as verbs but also like adjectives or nouns. When
the –ing form is used like an adjective it is often called a ‘present participle’ and when
used like a noun, a ‘gerund’, however some grammar books simply use the term ‘the –
ing form’.
I am smoking
the smoking gun
Smoking is bad for you
(-ing form of the verb)
(present participle)
1. the –ing form is nearly always used when a verb follows a preposition.
You can’t make an egg without breaking eggs (NOT: without to break eggs)
Always check the oil before starting the car
They painted the house instead of going on holiday (NOT: instead to go...)
2. ‘No’ is often used with –ing forms to say that something is not allowed:
no smoking
no walking on the grass
3. –ing forms can be used like nouns. The –ing form can act as the subject, complement
or object of a verb.
As subject:
As complement:
As object:
Smoking is bad for you
My favourite activity is reading
I hate packing
4. Even though the –ing form is used like a noun (subject/ complement or object) it is
not a noun and remains a verb and therefore can still have its own subject:
Smoking cigarettes is bad for your health (object = cigarettes)
I hate packing suitcases (object = suitcases)
5. Some nouns and adjectives can be followed by –ing verbs. Usually a preposition is
used to connect them.
the idea of getting old scares me (NOT: the idea to get old scares me)
I’m tired of listening to your complaints (NOT: I’m tired to listen to your complaints)
the thought of failing frightens me
6. –ing forms can be used after nouns and pronouns to define or identify the nouns
instead of using identifying relative clauses that use ‘who’, ‘which’, ‘when’ or ‘that’
and a complete verb.
I knew some of the people playing
(relative clause): I knew some of the people that were playing
Is that her dancing with your brother?
(relative clause): Is that her who is dancing with your brother?
What’s the name of the person standing over there?
(relative clause): What’s the name of the person who is standing over there?
7. –ing forms can be used before nouns, both with noun-like ‘gerunds’ and adjectivelike ‘present participles’.
a waiting room = a room for waiting in (like a noun - gerund)
a waiting train = a train that is waiting (like an adjective – present participle)
a sleeping pill (gerund) / a sleeping child (participle)
working conditions (gerund) / working men and women (participle)
When used like an adjective the participle usually has a similar meaning to the active
verb e.g. a waiting train = a train that is waiting
8. –ing forms can also be used like adverbs after verbs. Again, when used like this they
have similar meanings to active verbs.
she ran screaming out of the room = she was screaming
she walked out smiling = she was smiling
9. We often use determiners when using –ing forms like nouns (gerunds)
the opening of parliament
the ending of the film was fantastic
When –ing forms are used with an article they cannot normally have an object. Instead
the of – structure is used as you can see above.
We can also use possessives:
does my smoking annoy you?
John’s going to sleep during the class was rude
10. Participles (present and past) can be used in the structure object + participle
(clause) after verbs of sensation (e.g. see, hear, feel, watch, notice, smell) and some
other verbs (e.g. find, get, have, make)
- I saw a small girl standing in the goldfish pond.
- We’ll have to get the car repaired before Tuesday.
- We’ll soon have it fixed for you.