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The ing-form as a Second Action Accompanying the Action of the Predicate Verb

§ 1. The ing-form may express a second action accompanying the action expressed by the predicate verb. The subject of the ing-form is the same as the subject of the sentence. The ing-form in this function refers not to the predicate verb alone but to the whole predicate group. It does not form any close sense-unit with the predicate verb and can be found with verbal as well as with nominal predicates. The ing-form is not lexically dependent in this function.


e.g. They ran up the stairs brimming with excitement.

You can't just sit there being talkedabout.

I felt uneasy beingalone with him in that large house.

Martha was upstairs getting ready.

When I looked up he was still there waiting for me.

She was sitting in the doorway of the tent reading.



As a rule, the ing-form follows the predicate group, but it may also be placed at the head of the sentence or between the subject and the predicate,


e.g. Cominginto my office one evening in the autumn, he said shyly: "Doing anything tonight?" Watchingthem with bold, excited eyes, Simon discussed their characters.

I made to go out, but Roger, frowning,shook his head.

In the taxi going home, Margaret, holdingmy hand against her cheek, said: "You made a mistake, you know."


Note 1. When the ing-form is used to denote a second action, it is often separated by a comma from the rest of the sentence.


Note 2. The ing-forms of certain verbs have come to be used as prepositions or conjunctions. Care should be taken to distinguish them from the real ing forms.


e.g. Several officials, includingme, had been invited.

He says he willbe at the meeting place for three nights running next week beginningon Monday.

Well, considering that Hector's a politician, you can't say that he's altogether a fool.

Presuming the old man gets better and comes back to the job, then what?

Supposing you sold the land, what could you get for it?

"That will be all right, barringaccidents" I told him at once.


Note 3. Note that taking all things into consideration (account) has become a set phrase,


e.g. Taking all things into consideration,I decided to tear my letter up.


In the vast majority of sentences we find a simple ing-form which expresses an action simultaneous with that of the predicate verb (see the examples above). Yet if both the predicate verb and the ing-form are expressed by terminative verbs, the action of the ing-form precedes that of the predicate verb. The ing-form in this case is placed before the predicate,


e.g. Turningto his hostess, he remarked: "It's been a nice day."

(=He first turned to his hostess and then remarked.)

Recovering from his excitement, he became practical again.

Smith, turningto him, gave a serious contented smile.


The use of the perfect ing-form,though quite possible, is not of frequent occurrence. It shows that the action of the ing-form precedes that of the predicate verb. The Perfect ing-form is often placed before the predicate verb.

e.g. Havingduly arrivedin Scotland, he took a train the next day to Manchester.

Having cuther dirty bandage, John started tying her hand.

Havinggradually wastedhis small fortune, he preferred to live on the generosity of others rather than work.

Francis was there before me, havingcome by the morning train.

Norman, having lookedat his watch, slapped the play-script shut and put it on his chair.


As has been said, the subject of the ing form is usually the person or thing denoted by the subject of the sentence (see the examples above). Occasionally, however, we come across instances of the ing form whose subject is expressed elsewhere, for instance, by one of the secondary parts of the sentence.


e.g. Walkingbeside his friend, it seemed to Normanthat life was not so bad after all.

But back in his office, lookingdown at his desk, hissense of well-being left him.

I love you like hell, Bridget. And, lovingyou like hell, you can't expect meto enjoy seeing you get married to a pot- bellied, pompous little peer who loses his temper when he doesn't win at tennis.

But searchingfor i's not dotted, t's uncrossed in his letter, it came to himthat all he had written were lies, big lies poured over the paper like a thick syrup.


The above use of the ing-form is not common.

The ing-form denoting a second action in the kind of sentences illustrated above is typical of literary style where its use is quite extensive, but it is hardly ever used in spoken English.


However, the ing-form denoting a second action is quite common in spoken English after certain predicate groups. Here belong the verbs to spendand to wastewhen they are followed by the noun timeor some other expressions of time, and also after to have a good (hard, jolly, etc.,) time, to have difficulty, to have trouble and some others,

e.g. She did little typing herself, but spent her time correcting the work of the four girls she employed.

Are you going to spend your life saying "ought", like the rest of our moralists?

She told me that she would often spend a whole morning working upon a single page.

Well, I'm sure I don't know why I waste time cooking a big meal for this family if no one wants to eat it. He had a good time dancing at the club.

They had difficulty finding his address.


In spoken English there is another sentence pattern in which the ing-form denoting a second action is also quite common. The sentence pattern includes the verb to befollowed by an indication of place: to be here (there), to be in, to be in the room (kitchen, garden, office, etc.,), to be out, to be upstairs (downstairs) and the like.


e.g. Mother is out shopping.

Pat is downstairs talking to Father.

Miss Smith was in her office typing.

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