The ending “-ing” in English: the main functions and rules of use
One of the most important and useful constructions in the English language is the “-ing” ending. The ending “-ing” adds many opportunities for expressiveness and precision in speech, and it is difficult to imagine the English language without this element. In this article, we will take a detailed look at the use and function of the “-ing” ending.
The ending “-ing” forms a verb form that indicates an action, state or process that continues at a certain point in time (formation of the grammatical tenses of the Continuous group) or is generalized as a general fact. This form is also used to form gerund forms and to form nouns and adjectives from verbs. The ending “-ing” helps to expand the possibilities of expressiveness and precision in English speech, allowing to describe events, states and actions in more detail and vividly.
The rule of dropping ‘e’ before ‘-ing’ in English verbs
If a verb ends with an “e,” the “e” is typically dropped before adding the “-ing” ending. However, if the “e” is pronounced, it is not dropped.
Dropping the “e” before “-ing”:
- dance → dancing
- write → writing
Not dropping the “e” when it is pronounced:
- see → seeing
- agree → agreeing
These examples illustrate the rule of dropping the “e” before “-ing” for most verbs, except when the “e” is pronounced.
Changing ‘ie’ to ‘y’ before adding the suffix ‘-ing’ in English verbs
If a verb ends with the letter combination “ie,” when adding the suffix “-ing,” “ie” typically changes to “y.”
Changing “ie” to “y” before “-ing”:
- die → dying
- lie → lying
This rule applies to some verbs ending in “ie” and requires a change in the letter combination before adding “-ing.”
The rule of keeping the letter ‘y’ before the ending ‘-ing’ in English verbs
If a verb ends with the letter “y,” the “y” remains unchanged and is not dropped before the “-ing” ending, unlike when adding the “-ed” ending.
Keeping the “y” before “-ing”:
- cry → crying
- study → studying
This rule applies to verbs ending in “y” that do not require a change in this letter before adding “-ing,” as opposed to adding “-ed” in some cases.
Rules for doubling consonants before the ending ‘-ing’ in English verbs
Doubling of consonants before adding the “-ing” ending occurs when a verb ends with a single consonant letter, and there is a stressed vowel sound just before that consonant.
Doubling of consonants:
- run → running
- swim → swimming
No doubling of final consonants before “-ing” happens if the stress falls on a different vowel sound (not before the final consonant) or when the preceding sound is a long vowel.
No doubling of consonants:
- hope → hoping
- read → reading
The letter “x” at the end is not doubled because it represents two sounds: [ks] or [gz]. The final letter “w” is also not doubled.
No doubling of consonants:
- mix → mixing
- sow → sowing
These rules help determine when to double consonants before adding “-ing” to English verbs.
Rules for doubling the letter ‘l’ before the ending ‘-ing’ in British and American English
According to the grammatical rules of British English, when adding the “-ing” ending to verbs, the letter “l” is always doubled, even if the stress is not on the last syllable in the word.
Doubling of “l”:
- travel → travelling
- cancel → cancelling
However, in American English, doubling the letter “l” does not occur if the stress is not on the vowel sound before the final “l” or when the preceding vowel is a long vowel sound.
No doubling of “l”:
- travel → traveling
- counsel → counseling
If a verb ends with a single “l,” and there is a short stressed vowel sound before it, doubling takes place in both variants of the English language.
Doubling of “l” in both British and American English:
- control → controlling
Changing the suffix ‘ic’ to ‘ick’ before adding ‘-ing’ in English verbs
Verbs that end with the suffix “ic” typically change the “-ic” to “-ick” when adding the “-ing” ending.
Changing “-ic” to “-ick” before “-ing”:
- panic → panicking
This rule applies to certain verbs that have the “ic” ending and require a modification of this suffix before adding “-ing.”
Basic Functions and Uses of the “-ing” Ending
1. Formation of the Present Participle Form
The “-ing” ending is used to form the present participle. To create the present participle, take the base form of the verb and add “-ing.” For example:
- run (verb) → running (present participle)
- eat → eating r
- ead → reading
The present participle ending “-ing” is used as an adjective to describe the process or state of a person or thing. For example: “The running child is happy.”
2. Continuous Tense Forms
The “-ing” ending is used to form the present continuous tense. This form indicates an action that is happening at the current moment or in a period of time close to the present. To create it, the verb “to be” is used in the appropriate form, followed by the verb in its present participle form (ending with “-ing”).
- I am working on a project right now.
- She is reading a book at the moment.
This form is not limited to the present tense only and is used for other grammatical tenses that express ongoing or incomplete actions at the time of speaking. The main grammatical tenses where the “-ing” form is used include:
Present Continuous Tense: Used to describe actions happening in the current moment or in the immediate future.
- Example: “I am reading a book.”
Future Continuous Tense: Used to describe future actions that will be ongoing for a specific period of time.
- Example: “They will be working all day tomorrow.”
Past Continuous Tense: Used to describe actions that were ongoing at a specific moment in the past.
- Example: “She was studying when I called her.”
In these grammatical tenses, the “-ing” form helps express the duration or incompleteness of actions at a specific moment in time or during a certain period. Therefore, the use of the “-ing” form is not restricted to the present tense only.
3. Gerund Form
The “-ing” ending is also used to form the gerund. A gerund is a verb that functions as a noun. In English, the gerund is often used after certain verbs, prepositions, and expressions.
- I enjoy swimming.
- She is good at dancing.
Adjective The “-ing” ending can transform a verb into an adjective. Such adjectives describe the cause of a feeling or a state.
4. Verbs ending in “-ing”
Some verbs in the English language always take the “-ing” ending. These verbs are known as “non-finite” or “imperfect” verbs. Here are a few examples:
- Interesting: This is an adjective derived from the verb “interest.” It is usually used to describe something or someone that attracts attention or makes one want to learn more. Example: “It is an interesting book.”
- Exciting: This is an adjective derived from the verb “excite.” It is used to describe something thrilling or producing a feeling of enthusiasm or eagerness. Example: “This is an exciting opportunity.”
- Boring: This adjective, derived from the verb “bore,” is used to describe something uninteresting or tedious. Example: “The movie was boring.”
- Understanding: It can be a noun representing comprehension, sympathy, or a mutual agreement. Example: “They reached an understanding.”
- Outgoing: This is an adjective that describes a person who is friendly and likes interacting with other people. Example: “She is an outgoing person.”
These verbs always take the “-ing” ending and help enhance expressive capabilities in English communication.
5. Special Exceptions with the Ending ‘-ing’
Although most verbs can have a present participle form with the “-ing” ending, there are some exceptions. Certain verbs cannot be used in the “-ing” form. These include categories of verbs such as:
- Sensory Verbs: For example, “like,” “love,” “hate” – these verbs are not used in the “-ing” form.
- Verbs of Possession: This category includes “own,” “belong,” and others, which do not form an “-ing” form.
- Mental State Verbs: Verbs that express mental states, such as “know,” “believe,” are also not used with the “-ing” ending.
These are just some exceptions, but they are important for the correct use of verbs in various grammatical constructions in the English language.
The ending “-ing” is an important element of the English language, used to form participles, present continuous forms, gerunds, and many other constructions. Understanding and using this ending correctly helps improve your English language skills and expand your ability to express yourself in speech.