More About Adjectives

-ing Words as Adjectives

You have learned that a word ending with –ing can be noun or verb.  If a word ending in -ing is beside a verb, then it probably is a verb.  However, if a determiner comes before it, then it cannot be a verb. 

Verb: The dog was barking.                 Verb and -ing verb

Not a verb: The barking dog               Determiner and -ing word

-ing words can also be adjectives. To determine which they are, apply the adjective test:

WHAT? + N + extremely

If a word is associated with a noun and you can put extremely in front of it, then it’s an adjective.  The same is true for determining if an –ing word is an adjective or a noun.

Noun:                         The barking dog

Adjective:                  The fascinating movie

You can say the extremely fascinating movie.

You cannot say the extremely barking dog. 

Barking is a noun.

Fascinating is an adjective.

Rules of Thumb

We therefore have three rules of thumb for figuring out if an –ing word is a verb, noun, or adjective.  The rules won’t always work, but usually they are fairly reliable.

      1. Is there are determiner in front of it?        Then it cannot be a verb.
      2. Is it associated with a noun?                     Then it’s a noun or adjective.
      3. Is it associated with a noun and you

 can put extremely in front of it?                 Then it’s an adjective.

When Verbs Become Adjectives

The rule about determiners not coming before verbs does not apply when verbs become adjectives. For example:

Verb:              They have chosen the six finalists.

Chosen here is a lesser (-en) verb.  I am tenting.

Adjective:      The chosen competitors will compete tonight.

Chosen here is associated with competitors, a noun.

Verb:              The window was broken by one of the baseball players from Scotland.

Broken here is a lesser (-en) verb.  I am tenting.

Adjective:      The broken window was on the highest part of the stadium.

Broken here is associated with window, a noun.

Adjective:      The window was broken.

Broken here is associated with window, a noun.

Verbs as Adjectives + Extremely

Note: The word extremely will not always fit before a verb that has become an adjective. 

Adjective:      The window was extremely broken. 

Adjective:      The competitors were extremely chosen.

(Extremely does not work, but chosen is an adjective.)

Small Group Activity

Determine if the –ing word in the following is a V, N, or ADJ.

1.      The haunted house was fascinating.

2.      The singing cockroach was the hit of New York.

3.      Jill was singing loudly in her apartment.

4.      A pounding rainstorm hit Dallas.

5.      The hamster was running on its wheel.

6.      The alligator was wallowing in the mud.

7.      The voting public responded to the congressman’s misdeeds.

8.      We are pressuring the suspect to admit his guilt.

9.     The drill was boring well.

10.  His lectures are boring.

Individual or Small Group Activity

Complete the exercise appropriate to your grade:   Greece grades 1+

                                                                                       Greece grades 4+

                                                                                       Greece grades 7+

                                                                                       Greece grades 9+