Verb -ing Used as an Adjective


One of the fundamental aspects of English grammar is the verb and its various structures and uses. A verb can be modified to play different roles in a sentence, one of which is that of an adjective. This is predominantly achieved using the -ing form of the verb. In this tutorial, we will explore the topic 'Verb -ing used as an adjective' in detail, including its definitions, examples and implications in sentence structures.

What is an '-ing' Adjective?

An '-ing' adjective is a present participle of a verb that is used as an adjective. It describes the characteristics of a noun, usually indicates a state or a process that has been ongoing, or it can imply a temporary situation. It is formed by adding -ing to the stem of the verb. The verb in its '-ing' form can modify a noun, thus acting as an adjective.


  • Fascinating story (The story fascinates people.)
  • Boiling water (The water is boiling.)
  • Interesting book (The book interests the reader.)

Using '-ing' Adjectives

When we use verbs in the '-ing' form as adjectives, they are usually placed before the noun they modify in a sentence. Though it may appear similar to the Continuous tenses (The Present Continuous, Past Continuous, Future Continuous), the '-ing' adjective does not indicate an action occurring at the time of speaking but an inherent characteristic of the noun it is modifying.


  • The running water was cool and refreshing.
  • She gave me a puzzling look.
  • I bought an exciting new video game.

Guidelines and Exceptions

Like most grammar rules, there are a few guidelines and exceptions when using '-ing' adjectives. Here we'll discuss a few of them.

1. '-ing' form implying active influence

When used as an adjective, the '-ing' form often implies an active influence – the subject is performing an action that influences the object. This contrasts with adjectives in the '-ed' form, which imply that the subject is being influenced by an action.


  • Exciting movie (The movie excites the audience.)
  • Excited audience (The audience is excited by the movie.)

2. '-ing' form with verbs of perception

Verbs of perception (watch, see, hear, etc.) can be followed by an object and the '-ing' form of a verb, even when the modified noun is not present in the sentence. This situation implies an ongoing action that the subject perceives.


  • I heard him singing.
  • She saw the dog running across the yard.


Understanding how the '-ing' form of verbs is used as an adjective is fundamental to mastering English grammar. Not only does it add dimension to your sentences, but it also enhances your capability to express various situations and conditions. Whether you are learning English as a second language or refining your skills, always take note of how verbs modify in different sentence structures.

In summary, the '-ing' form of a verb can act as an adjective, offering information about the noun it modifies. This usage is notable in sentences where the '-ing' word precedes a noun, indicating an active influence. Remember, while they may appear similar to continuous tense forms, '-ing' adjectives differ by describing characteristics rather than active occurrences.

Through regular practice in reading, writing, and grammar exercises, you will become familiar with this concept and be able to use it proficiently in your English language communication.

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