The Gerund and the Present Participle: ‘ING’ Form


The ‘-ing’ form of the verb may be a present participle or a gerund.

The form is identical, the difference is in the function, or the job the word does in the sentence.

The present participle:

This is most commonly used:

  • as part of the continuous form of a verb,
    he is painting; she has been waiting
  • after verbs of movement/position in the pattern:
    verb + present participle,
    She sat looking at the sea
  • after verbs of perception in the pattern:
    verb + object + present participle,
    We saw him swimming
  • as an adjective, e.g. amazing, worrying, exciting, boring

The gerund:

This always has the same function as a noun (although it looks like a verb), so it can be used:

  • as the subject of the sentence:
    Eating people is wrong.
  • after prepositions:
    Can you sneeze without opening your mouth?
    She is good at painting
  • after certain verbs,
    e.g. like, hate, admit, imagine
  • in compound nouns,
    e.g. driving lesson, a swimming pool, bird-watching, train-spotting