Posted by: Idioma Extra | September 22, 2011

Thursday Tidbits – Gerunds, adjectives, and progressive verb forms

Gerunds, adjectives, and progressive forms with –ing verbs 

Words that end in –ing­ are not always present participles in progressive verb forms (i.e. He is running). There are other parts of speech that also end in –ing. Here are some examples:


In English, gerunds act as nouns. Here are a few examples:

Riding a motorcycle is hard.

I don’t think I would like living in Alaska.

He told me that working at Intel was awesome.

You can always identify a gerund in a sentence with the “it” test. If you can replace the gerund or gerund phrase with “it” in a sentence, then it is a gerund acting as either the subject or object of a sentence.

Some examples:

Writing a novel would be hard. > It would be hard.

Fred was upset about missing his flight. > Fred was upset about it.


Some present participles (-ing words) can also be used as adjectives. They are used to modify a noun, like any other adjective. Here are some examples:

The winning team celebrated all night.

Have you ever heard of a talking dog?

The teacher is interesting.

 The “it” test fails here. It is not a gerund acting as a noun.

Progressive forms

Finally, the easiest to recognize is when ­–ing is used in a progressive verb form. Here are some examples.

They were talking about the results of the game.

She is exercising in the park right now.

The “it” test fails here. It is not a gerund acting as a noun.

Check yourself

Look at the following sentences and identify if the underlined ­­–ing word is a gerund (G), adjective (A), or a verb in the progressive form (P).

1. Winning the game is not everything. ___

2. I really hate ironing shirts. ___

3. When do you think he is planning to leave? ___

4. We need to buy a few folding chairs for the patio. ___

5. Sometimes I feel like taking long walks in the park. ___

6. Is anyone in this room thinking of a solution? ___

7. His main activity is watching TV in the daytime. ___

8. Is cleaning the house your idea of a good time? ___

9.  This class is really exciting. ___

10. Put the meat on the cutting board. ___

 Answers to last week’s Check Yourself

1. I’m glad my boss worked with me a lot on the project because I had no clue. He was very (helpful / helpless).

2. Some people can handle getting a tattoo, but I can’t. I think it is too (painful / painless).

3. If you speak to me in a language I don’t understand, it is (meaningful / meaningless) to me.

4. This food has no spices or anything. It is completely (flavorful / flavorless).

5. My younger brother spends all his time playing video games. When it comes to helping around the house, he is (useful / useless).

6. The visiting team beat us 63-0 in football. They were completely (merciful / merciless).

7. I need you to be (careful / careless) when picking up the baby.

8. The scenic views in Costa Rica are very (colorful / colorless).

9. He has thought of every detail for the project. He works in a very (purposeful / purposeless) manner.

10. My co-workers gave me some flowers while I was in the hospital. They were extremely (thoughtless / thoughtful).


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