Unit 34 `-ing’ and `-ed’ adjectives

Main points

* Many adjectives ending in `-ing’ describe the effect that something has on someone’s feelings.

* Some adjectives ending in `-ing’ describe a process or state that continues over a period of time.

* Many adjectives ending in `-ed’ describe people’s feelings.

1 You use many `-ing’ adjectives to describe the effect that something has on your feelings, or on the feelings of people in general. For example, if you talk about `a surprising number’, you mean that the number surprises you.


He lives in a charming house just outside the town.
She always has a warm welcoming smile.

Most `-ing’ adjectives have a related transitive verb.
See Unit 51 for information on transitive verbs.

2 You use some `-ing’ adjectives to describe something that continues over a period of time.


Britain is an ageing society.
Increasing prices are making food very expensive.

These adjectives have related intransitive verbs.
See Unit 51 for information on intransitive verbs.

3 Many `-ed’ adjectives describe people’s feelings. They have the same form as the past participle of a transitive verb and have a passive meaning. For example, `a frightened person’ is a person who has been frightened by something.


She looks alarmed about something.
A bored student complained to his teacher.
She had big blue frightened eyes.

Note that the past participles of irregular verbs do not end in `-ed’, but can be used as adjectives. See pages 216-217 for a list of irregular past participles.
The bird had a broken wing.
His coat was dirty and torn.

4 Like other adjectives, `-ing’ and `-ed’ adjectives can be:

* used in front of a noun
They still show amazing loyalty to their parents.
This is the most terrifying tale ever written.
I was thanked by the satisfied customer.
The worried authorities cancelled the match.

* used after link verbs
It’s amazing what they can do.
The present situation is terrifying.
He felt satisfied with all the work he had done.
My husband was worried.

* modified by adverbials such as `quite’, `really’, and `very’
The film was quite boring.
There is nothing very surprising in this.
She was quite astonished at his behaviour.
He was a very disappointed young man.

* used in the comparative and superlative
His argument was more convincing than mine.
He became even more depressed after she died.
This is one of the most boring books I’ve ever read.
She was the most interested in going to the cinema.

5 A small number of `-ed’ adjectives are normally only used after link verbs such as `be’, `become’, or `feel’. They are related to transitive verbs, and are often followed by a prepositional phrase, a `to’-infinitive clause, or a `that’-clause.


The Brazilians are pleased with the results.
He was always prepared to account for his actions.
She was scared that they would find her.