Adjectives from participles and gerunds

Dear all,

I have always found that students tend to get confussed by the difference between adjectives that end in -ed and those that end in -ing. Some such pairs of adjectives are interested/interesting, bored/boring or frightened/frightening.  If you think you need an explanation, just keep on reading!

To start with, we should see some examples of these adjectives in context. Can you compare these sentences?

  • I have always been interested in literature, especially British literature.
  • The story the teacher was telling was very interesting and the kids were listening in silence.
  • The film was so boring that we left the cinema after half an hour.
  • It was a rainy afternoon and I was bored because I couldn’t go out. Then, I decided I could make some muffins for tea and had a wonderful time.
  • I watched a horror movie and was so frightened that I couldn’t sleep for an entire week.
  • The novel was so frightening that I couldn’t read it before going to bed.

Can you see the difference?

Let me explain… As you may have already guessed, all these adjectives come from verbs (interest, bore, frighten) and use either the past participle or the gerund forms.

We use the past participle (-ed) to describe the way someone feels (I feel interested, bored or frightened), whereas we use the gerund (-ing) to decribe the thing or person that causes this feeling.

Imagine someone tells you:

  • You are bored!
  • You are boring!

There’s a difference, isn’t there? I would be quite offended by the second sentence!

There are many verbs that can produce these double adjectives. Let’s list some of them:

amazed/amazing, embarrassed/embarrassing, excited/exciting, annoyed/annoying, disappointed/disappointing, confused/confusing, surprised/surprising, fascinated/fascinating, depressed/depressing…….

I hope the explanation was interesting and clarifying…..and that you are interested in English, as well as stimulated, excited and fascinated by the blog!!!!

See you online!

17th January, 2017 update: I have added some exercises to revise these adjectives. You can find them here.



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