July 4, 2014

Free English Lesson: How to use the –ing suffix!

2 minute read

One of the most common suffixes you’ll come across in English is the “-ing” form – it can be added on to the end of virtually any verb you encounter. But what does it mean, and how does it work? Let’s take a look!

1. Something is in progress

One way of using –ing is to show the progressive aspect of something – that means something is going on, has been going on, or will be happening.

You can use this with any verb, in any tense in English, and the structure is pretty much the same each time: use the appropriate form of the verb “to be”, and add “-ing” at the end of the verb:

Eg. “He’s going to Australia this summer.”

Eg. “I was reading that - before you interrupted!”

2. Verb or noun?

“-ing” can also be used to turn a verb into a “gerund” – this is a verb that can also be used as a noun. You can transform most verbs into gerunds by adding the suffix  - and then simply use the word as a regular noun.

Eg. “Learning to drive is not hard.”

Eg. “She is a fan of reading comics.”

3. Verb or adjective?

Some verbs can also be turned into adjectives or participles in much the same way. You can use them with the –ing suffix just like any other adjective in English.

Eg. “I found the sudden transformation quite startling.”

Eg. “The new movie adaptation was quite boring.”

4. When not to use –ing

Of course there are always exceptions, and on some occasion you will not want to use –ing. The main time when you cannot use it is after the word “to” – you cannot say “to reading”, but would say “to read”.

Eg: incorrect use: “She told me that she wanted to leaving the party.”

Eg. correct use: “She told me that she wanted to leave the party.”


Try your hand at –ing by changing some of the verbs in the sentences below with this handy little suffix! The meaning of the sentence shouldn’t change – only the structure:

  1. Improve your English with daily practice.
  2. The launch of the new product will improve the company’s reputation.
  3. We like to run every morning.
  4. I found that it was not easy to talk to him.