1. lostinwebspace
    Offline

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Canada

    -ing forms

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Jul 29, 2011.

    How much should we cut down on -ing forms of words? I know we should cut down on gerunds, and I know the continuous forms of tenses aren't good, and I know to moderate past participals. Still, I've got a few nouns (king, something, ding, bring, thing), some adjectives (skin-devouring acid, upcoming, etc.), some participials (He kicked the door, screaming) that all have -ing. What exactly is the problem here and what should I cut out? I know everything is okay in moderation, but I'd like to know the logic here to know how much to moderate. Can I never again use "upcoming" or "anything" without having to worry about moderation?

    And now for gerunds:

    What's the problem with saying "I like boxing" (gerund form) as opposed to "I like to box"? Or is it more that gerund phrases, which I just used in the previous sentence, and not just gerunds are frowned upon?

    Even more, what's the problem with "I like boxing" as opposed to "I like to box"? What I mean is that someone might actually like to watch the sport of boxing, but not to participate in it.

    It seems insane that some editors have a hate-on for any gerund, so does that mean I'm never allowed to refer to the sport of swimming anymore?
     
  2. Quezacotl
    Offline

    Quezacotl Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Messages:
    342
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Ponyville
    Verbs with -ing are considered weak. Nouns with -ing are fine. However, editors want the sentence to have a clear meaning and they will attempt to help you by changing the verb into an active voice.
     
  3. lostinwebspace
    Offline

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Canada
    What about adjectives? I get rid of them just like the next writer, but I still have to use them in some cases. I'd hate that words such as "upcoming," "foreboding," etc. are frowned upon?
     
  4. teacherayala
    Offline

    teacherayala Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Panama
    I have to be honest--this is the first I've heard about people being anti- -ing words. I honestly don't think that you should be stressing about this. Let your editor stress about this. I also have this horrible tendency to lose my creative voice from obsessing about all of the do's and don'ts. To a certain degree, I've decided to stop worrying about such things to a great extent. They can be in the back of my mind, but I can't let them be in the forefront.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    -ing words are called participles, and they are a component in several compound verb tenses.

    Simple verb tenses generally have more punch. However, that doesn't mean you should avoid participle forms completely. Those extended verb tenses have specific shades of meaning, and writing is always about the best choices of wording. Also, participles can appear as nouns, in which case they are called gerunds:
    Also, participle verb forms surrounding an active verb passage can elevate the impact of the active passage.
     
  6. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    Not aware of any blanket condemnation of -ing words. Am happening to read, right this minute, John Gardner's, The Art of Fiction. He has this to say:

    Gardner does concede that such phrases might sometimes come in handy since they do a good job of slowing pace and injecting stateliness.

    Take from that what you will.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    Not all words ending in -ing are participles. The present participle is actually only one variant on the gerund verb form. In some cases, as in the OP's example on boxing, depending upon the sentence structure and usage, the -ing word may, in fact, be not only a noun but may serve as the subject of the sentence. Or am I forgetting something from grade school?


    I think the key in Gardner's comments is, "... Used indiscriminately ..." But, that could as readily be said about almost any writing ploy. No?
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    A gerund (participle used as a noun) is still a participle.
     
  9. Seye
    Offline

    Seye Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    2
    Anything in abundance should be removed from the story. That goes for gerunds if they are placed for the sake of putting motion. I haven't met a suffix/prefix that was stronger than a root word.
     
  10. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    Get "rid of" adjectives? That does not sound to me like something likely to lead to good writing. Maybe cut back a bit if you're overdoing it...
     
  11. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    See. I knew I shouldn't have slept through English class in fifth grade!
     
  12. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I don't think these kind of words are the issue, it's not the ending "ing" per se that is bad but verbs ending (!) that way, if I got it right.

    Fortunately we don't use gerunds very much in the language I'm writing in so I don't know the exact rules about them. :p
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    A gerund is what you use whan you are discussing the activity itself that is represented by a verb.

    If you are talking about a character, you might say she runs, or that she ran, etc. You can even say that she is running, which means she is engaged in that continuing activity right now (present progressive tense).

    But when you discuss the activity itself, you use the participle as a gerund. For example:

    Some languages may use the infinitive for the same purpose, but in English:

    just is not how we express it.
     
  14. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    thanks for explaining. I have heard people saying that using them is considered weak writing, but WHY? Is there ever an appropriate situation to use them and when? I agree that starting a sentence with this kind of word ("Staring out of the window she saw...") sounds rather odd, but it might be me that is not used to them in my language. :)

    Edit: Are the forms I used bad too? :D I'm lucky I don't write in english :p
     
  15. lostinwebspace
    Offline

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Canada
    So is that form of the gerund--and things such as "His screaming hurt my ears," "I prefer to watch boxing," "My main pasttime is dancing"--okay? Please tell me it is. I've heard people complain about gerunds and I don't know if they mean just gerunds or gerund phrases.

    For that matter, are -ing words in adjectival form (spitting toad, playing card, seafaring barge, snapping turtle, swishing waters, melting ice, etc.) okay?

    I'm trying to figure out where the hubbub is over these -ing words. I know verbs are bad in -ing form, but I want to see about the rest.
     
  16. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I have not seen gerunds overused. I have no problem with them, as long as the writer doesn't go overboard with them.

    However, I have seen people misuse the word gerund itself. A gerund is a participle in a particular context. All gerunds are participles, but not all participles are gerunds. But many people incorrectly use the terms interchangeably.
     
  17. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    I note that he used "beginning" and "writing", which is more support for the suggestion that one should not indiscriminately chop out all -ing forms, any more that one should indiscriminately throw them in. :)
     
  18. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    It can be ambiguous whether it's a participle or a noun, but if it's definitely used as a noun then in modern grammar it is a noun -- see the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English p24, for example. Oh, and the term "gerund" is out of fashion amongst linguists and grammarians. I doubt you'd find a modern academic grammar text that uses the term.
     

Share This Page