To -ing or not to -ing?

How to use -ing forms in English

In English, -ing forms are used in so many different ways, and since they are particularly challenging for non-native speakers of English, we have listed the most common -ing forms and their typical pitfalls below.

1. Present continuous (together with the auxiliary verb ’to be’)

The present continuous is used to talk about an activity at the moment of speaking, e.g.:

  • The sun is shining in Herning this morning.
  • She is doing her homework.


If, on the other hand, you want to describe an unchanged, repeated or reoccurring activity or a fact, the present tense should be used, e.g.:

  • It rains a lot in Denmark.
  • He studies business economics at BTECH.

2. After prepositions

If a verb is followed by a preposition, it must always be in -ing form, e.g.:

  • I look forward to meeting you.

Many non-native speakers of English mistakenly write “I look forward to meet you”; however, since ’to’ in this context is a preposition, the verb must be followed by ’-ing’.

3. After certain verbs

Some verbs are always followed by the -ing form. These are: admit, appreciate, avoid, begin, consider, contemplate, deny, detest, dislike, enjoy, escape, fancy, finish, hate, imagine, keep, like, love, mind, miss, postpone, practise, remember, resent, risk, cannot help, cannot stand, start, stop and suggest. E.g.:

  • I love working at BTECH.

4. In reduced relative clauses

Sometimes it makes good sense to omit the relative pronoun (who/whom) and change the verb to an -ing form, e.g.:

  • The women who work at BTECH are very clever.
  • The women working at BTECH are very clever.

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