Home Grammar intermediate Adjectives: ed or ing

Adjectives: ed or ing


We can use the present and past participles of verbs that describe an effect that is made on something as adjectives.

We use the present participle (ending with "–ing") as an adjective to describe how the subject causes the effect. We use the past participle (ending with "–ed") as an adjective to describe how the subject experiences the effect.


From the root verb "surprise":

Form: -ed or -ing?

Here are some examples of participles of verbs that can be used as adjectives:

Root verb
(describing an effect)   
adjective "-ing"
(present participle)   
adjective "–ed"
(past participle)   
bore boring bored
disappoint disappointing disappointed
disgust disgusting disgusted
embarrass embarrassing embarrassed
exhaust exhausting exhausted
excite exciting excited
interest interesting interested
satisfy satisfying satisfied
shock shocking shocked
surprise surprising surprised
tire tiring tired


We use participles as adjectives in the same way as other adjectives, for example:

with "be":

before a noun:


Complete the sentences with the correct adjective from the root verb in brackets:

  • They enjoyed the film but the ending was . (shock)
  • The results of the experiment led to some conclusions. (interest)
  • She worked until late last night. She was very this morning. (tire)
  • I left the party because I was . (bore)

Participles as adjectives: comparatives and superlatives

To form comparatives and superlatives of participle adjectives, we use "more" / "most" and "less" / "least":

  • The exhibition was more interesting than I expected.
  • His second book was less interesting than the first.
  • He was the most excited member of the audience.
  • It’s the least exciting painting at the exhibition.

Further practice

Choose the correct answer to complete the sentence: a, b, c or d.

Check my answers