“-ing” vs “-ed” adjectives.


A frightening spider that lived on my deck for the summer.

Throughout my years of teaching I’ve found that using “-ing” adjectives and “-ed” adjectives can be quite difficult for students of all levels. So, I’ll briefly explain it here.

“-ing” adjectives:

“-ing” adjectives are used to describe a person, object or situation.

eg: “He’s a very frightening man!”    “His theories are strange, but interesting.”    “That movie was so boring I couldn’t help falling asleep. I even dribbled on my shirt!” (That one’s a true story.)

“-ed” adjectives:

“-ed” adjectives are used to describe feelings.

eg: “I was so bored by that movie I feel asleep.”    “I felt exhausted just watching the Olympics.”    “I get so excited and nervous when I see her that I always make a fool of myself.” (A huge problem for me right through High School.)

There are a few words that are different. For example “scared” and “scary”.

eg: “I am scared of spiders”    “Spiders are scary.” (NOT “Spiders are scaring.”)

Maybe you could practice by writing sentences about yourself using these words.

frighten, tire, interest, excite, bore, surprise, exhaust and terrify.

I hope that clears things up a bit. Remember, next time you talk about something that you didn’t find interesting, don’t say “I was boring.”, say “I was bored.”. There’s a big difference.

P.S. About the spider. At first I broke the spider’s web everyday, hoping that it would go away. But I found that I could break it’s web, but I couldn’t break it’s determination and spirit. It would be back bigger and stronger every morning. I grew to respect and quite like it, so I was rather disappointed and frankly hurt when I woke up one morning to find it had moved on. 

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