Adding “ing” to the ending of a verb in the English language changes both the meaning and the function of the verb. In some cases, it causes the verb to act as a noun or adjective, whereas in others, it changes the tense of the verb.
When the verb functions as a noun, it generally takes on the “ing” form, becoming a gerund. Gerunds may be the subjects, direct objects, subject complements or object of prepositions in sentences. In the sentence, “Singing is fun,” for example, “singing” serves as the subject. In, “They appreciate my singing,” however, “singing” serves as the direct object. The sentence, “My favorite hobby is singing,” places “singing” as the subject complement. In the example, “I got an award for singing,” “singing” is the object of the preposition.
In some instances, adding “ing” to a verb makes it function like an adjective. For instance, in the sentence, “I was met by a singing party,” the word “singing” is an adjective describing the type of party. In the quote by Edward Hodnett, an American poet, "Only the inquiring mind solves problems," the word "inquiring" is used as an adjective to describe the mind.
Adding “ing” to verbs can change the tense of the verb to various instances of the continuous, denoting ongoing actions. In the sentence, “I’m singing opera,” the verb “singing" denotes the present continuous tense. In, “I’ve been singing opera,” the phrase “been singing" portrays the present perfect tense. The sentence, “I was singing opera,” uses “was singing" in the past continuous tense. “I’ll be singing opera tomorrow night” portrays “be singing" in the future continuous tense.
Verb and “ing” Combinations
Some verbs are followed by a word ending in “ing” to portray certain actions. For instance, in author Charlotte Bronte's quote, "I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward," the phrase "avoid looking" illustrates a verb and "ing" combination. Other common verb and "ing" combinations include "look forward to seeing," "keeps calling" and "can't stand going."