How to use the -ING form of verbs in English

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Did you know that there are at least four different ways to use the -ing form of verbs in English?

You might already know one or two of these, but after today’s lesson you’ll have a more complete understanding of when we use verbs in the -ING form, like reading, watching, and so on.

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Let’s learn about -ING verbs!

#1 – Use the -ING form of verbs in continuous tenses

Continuous tenses are when an action is in progress, for example:

Present continuous:

  • I’m studying English.
  • She’s watching TV.
  • We’re having lunch at the moment.

Present perfect continuous:

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about this decision.
  • He’s been working here since 1995.
  • They’ve been waiting for you for an hour.

Past continuous:

  • When I came home last night, you were already sleeping.
  • I found $10 on the street while I was jogging in the park.

Future continuous:

  • Sorry, I can’t meet with you tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be taking my friend to the airport.

#2 – Use the -ING form when the verb is the subject of the sentence

  • Skiing is my favorite winter sport.
  • Eating vegetables is good for your health.
  • Living in an English-speaking country helps you improve your English fast.

#3 – Use the -ING form after prepositions

  • I improved my English by practicing every day.
  • We left the party after saying goodbye to everyone.
  • I can’t believe he passed the test without studying at all!
  • They’ve made a lot of money since launching their new product.
  • I want to talk to you about investing in the stock market.

Exception: Never use the -ING form after “to”:

  • I need to practice my English more.
  • My mother told me to study for the test.
  • We’d like to invest in this technology.
  • The girl didn’t want to leave the party.

#4 – Use the -ING form after these verbs in English

Here are some common verbs in English that are followed by -ing.

  • admit
    The politician admitted stealing millions of dollars.
  • avoid
    You should avoid eating after 10 PM.
  • consider
    Have you considered buying a laptop computer?
  • enjoy
    I enjoy surfing and playing tennis.
  • finish
    I finally finished cleaning the house at midnight.
  • can’t stand
    I can’t stand going to parties where I don’t know anyone.
  • don’t mind
    I don’t mind working overtime.
  • look forward to
    I look forward to seeing you next week.
  • keep (continue)
    My ex-boyfriend keeps calling me even though I’ve told him I don’t want to talk to him!
  • practice
    I need to practice writing in English.
  • spend (time)
    My roommate spends hours watching TV.
  • stop
    He stopped smoking ten years ago.
  • suggest/ recommend
    I suggest taking some time off.
    The doctor recommended getting more rest.

Start, like, and love can be used with the infinitive or -ing. Both are correct!

    • The baby started to cry.
      = The baby started crying.
    • I like to run.
      = I like running.
    • We love reading.
      = We love to read.

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