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English Grammar: -Ed vs. -Ing Lesson

4 min read
10 February 2021
Kaplan English School in Boston

This week’s grammar post is brought to you by Rachel Burns, a recurring contributor and Academic Coordinator of the Kaplan International English school in Portland, Oregon. Rachel has been teaching for over 13 years and working with Kaplan for 7.

Find out more about our Portland school and our English language programs in the USA.


-Ed vs -ing

Verb + ing is the present participle form of the verb.  When this form is used as an adjective, it is “active.”  Whatever or whomever is described affects others in the way they are described described.

Therefore, a disappointing situation disappoints the people involved, and after an exhausting day, you have no energy and feel completely tired and exhausted.

When a present participle is used as an adjective, it is the cause or reason

  • If I read an interesting book about studying abroad, it increased my interest in that topic.
  • If my trip to Seattle was exciting, it made me feel excited and energetic.


Verb + ed is the past participle.  When this form is used as an adjective, it is “passive.”  Whatever or whomever is described has something done to it.
Therefore, a person who can’t find his or her keys begins to worry, and the missing keys make the person worried.  In the same way, a many choices or problems can complicate a situation, or create a complicated situation.

When a past participle is used to describe a person, it is often a feeling

  • I am excited about my trip to Seattle.
  • We were bored at the party, so we left early.
  • Are you interested in studying English?


You can get bored (feeling) while watching a movie, and decide to leave the movie theater.  Later, you can advise your friends not to go see that boring (cause or reason) movie.

You can be excited (feeling) about an upcoming trip to Los Angeles you are going to take next month.  You might look up exciting (cause or reason) places to visit when you are in LA.


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Common mistakes

Students often think that an –ing adjective refers to a thing, and an –ed adjective refers to a person.  But people affect other people.  And isn’t it possible for a person to be the cause or reason for an emotion?

  • I can’t spend more than a few minutes with him.  He is so boring.
  • I could talk to him all day long.  He is so interesting.


Sometimes these word forms are used in a different way.  Make sure that you are using them as adjectives, not as...


  • Educating the world is my goal.


Part of the main verb:

  • Running five miles tired him out. 
  • She is always amazing us with her creative ideas.


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