Thursday 15 October 2009

Grammar: -ed, -ing Adjectives

A simpler and lighter article today after a difficult one, still on grammar though.

The ed/ing Adjectives are most often misused in English. They are very similar, but they are not that difficult to be correctly used.

The easy rules generally (with exceptions) are:

Non-living thing(s) --> ing

Examples goes:

  1. The movie is interesting for it is free. (Movies are not living things)

  2. Your cooking is really amazing! Much better than mine! (Cooking skill is not a living thing)

Living thing(s) --> ed

Examples goes:

  1. I feel so bored half way through the lecture that I left to play football. (I am a living thing)

  2. He was so depressed that he ate one large pizza on his own. (He is a person)

But if you want to be 100% correct, then you need to remember another two:

Describe the people or things that cause the feelings -->-ing
eg. Sandra is an amazing person. (Sandra caused the feeling)

To say how people feel --> -ed

eg. Sandra is amazed. (Sandra feels this way)

The use of ed/ing adjectives can be very wide, here I have just mentioned some. If you have seen others, you are welcome to post them here.


  1. I tried the exercise, it is useful.
    But I still want to make it clear :

    " Describe the people or things that cause the feelings -->-ing "
    Does it mean the feeling of people or things are caused by external factors
    " To say how people feel --> -ed " that really comes from people's inner part - feeling that generated from himself/herself

    When I took this concept to do the exercise, I found that :

    1) I have nothing to do, I am bored
    2) My trip to Paris is cancelled......I feel disappointed
    3) Students did badly....... didn't smile for weeks

    Actually, the feeling of each sentence is affected by external factor, why " ed " is used ?

  2. Hi Phy,

    Nice job for trying out the exercise.

    I wouldn't say that -ing adjectives are used when a feeling is caused by external factors, if I am to put it in another way, I would say it describes the "quality" of sth/sb.

    eg. Sandra is an amazing person. (amazing is her quality)
    eg. The Ocean Park Halloween Bash is fascinating! (fascinating is its quality)

    As for the -ed adjectives, you are right, because "how people feel" is "generated from oneself", so they are the same.

    Such further goes to your example:
    1) this is how "I" feel, and "I" feel bored.
    2) this is how "I" feel, and "I" feel disappointed.
    3) sorry, I can't see -ed/-ing adjective here, "badly" is an adjective though.


  3. Is the last question, " When the students did badly, the teacher became really disappointing and didn't smile for weeks.", one of the exception to the rules? How do you explain this?


  4. Well, this is an easy one.
    If the answer is "disappointing", then that means the teacher's "quality" is disappointing, which means maybe the teacher performed badly in class, but that doesn't seem to be the case, thus I can conclude that "disappointing" is a WRONG ANSWER!
    The correct one should be "disappointed"

  5. I also thought that "disappointed" should be the correct answer. But the result of the answer checking was "No" and 5% was deducted from my score! What happened?!

  6. For the last question:
    Are they correct to say that the students are disappointing guys? (beacause they cause the feeling)and the disappointed teacher didn't smile for a week.(how people feel)

    Best regards,

  7. You can say "the students are disappointing and the disappointed teacher didn't smile" but I don't think the teacher can refuse to smile for a week.