When to Use Adjectives with –ed and When with –ing

Ever heard yourself say: “She was very interesting in my new book?” It’s a mistake. The word that should be used here is not interesting, but interested.

Let’s fix this problem now.

Suppose you’ve written a book. Wonderful! You’re showing it to other people, and they like it.

You show it to your friend. She is surprised.

You show it to another friend. He is amazed.

You show the book to your neighbours. They are fascinated.

You show your book to a movie producer. She is interested.

You tell the story to your parents. They are excited.

All these people say things such as: “Wow, I am interested in your book. I am surprised you are able to write a book. This book amazed me. The central love story moved me. The death of the hero disturbed me. But the ending satisfied me.”

Of course, your little brother is bored. He says: “I’m disappointed you didn’t write something about me.”

I’m sure you’ve already gotten the point: The adjective with –ed is used to describe how people feel about something.

Now, when you’re showing your book, people could also say something not about how they are feeling, but they could tell you something about your book.

In this case, they’d say thing such as: “Wow! Your book is very interesting. It’s fascinating! It’s an amazing book. This could be such an exciting movie. The dialogues are stunning!”

Naturally, your brother again doesn’t have a single good word to say about your book. He doesn’t think it thrilling at all. He just thinks the attention for your book is annoying.

In other words, when you’re talking about the thing that causes a certain feeling, use –ing.

It’s easy to remember: thing/-ing.


Ed Yourdon

I expect you were able to follow this. Now try this little quiz.


Use –ed in the one sentence, and –ing in the other.

1 pleased/pleasing

a Mum was ______________ when I gave her a compliment.

b The table arrangement looks ______________.

2 excited/exciting

a Swimming with dolphins is so ______________!

b We’re all _______________ about your visit.

3 tired/tiring

a The trip was fun, but _____________.

b Long meetings make me ____________.

4 satisfied/satisfying

a We just had a ___________ talk.

b Are you ____________ with yourself?

Answers: scroll down to the bottom of the page.


1 a pleased

b pleasing

2 a exciting

b excited

3 a tiring

b tired

4 a satisfying

b satisfied

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