Features of the Continuous Form of a Verb

Features of the Continuous Form of a Verb

Continuous Verb
For sometime now my emphasis has been on verbs(all forms/types) because the verb is an important element of a sentence. The grammaticality and ungrammaticality of a sentence depends on the use of verb. In other words, a sentence is termed 'correct' if there is a concord between the subject and the verb and 'incorrect' if the subject and the verb are in disparity. This article examines the features of the "ing/continuous" form of the English verb.

The "ing" form of the verb is the continuous form of the verb and it is assumed by every lexical verb. It is formed by the addition of "ing" to the base form of the verb, e.g. eat + ing =eating, go + ing = going.

However, in some verbs that end in "e" as in "write," you delete the "e" before adding the "ing," e.g. write + ing=writing. In verbs like "traffic," you add "k" to it before adding the "ing," e.g. traffic + k + ing =trafficking. In verbs like "lie," you change the "ie" to "y" before adding "ing," e.g. lie + ing =lying.

The "ing" verb has the following features:

1. It is the progressive aspect form. 
You form the progressive aspect by adding the auxiliary "be" + "ing," e.g. She is eating. "is eating" in the sentence shows that the action is in progress/ongoing.

The auxiliary "be" has other forms (am, was, were, been, being), so you can still say, "I am eating," "I was eating," "They were eating," "I have been eating," depending on the sentence structure or the time of the action.

2. The "ing" form of the verb is nominalized;
This simply means it can function as a noun in a sentence.
  • Teaching is my profession. 
  • Dancing is my hobby. 
  • Running can be tiring.
In this case they are called gerunds (that is nominalized verbs).
3. "ing" verbs can also be used as adjectives. In other words they can be used to qualify nouns in sentences.
  • There is no running water.
  • The man is a walking copse.
4. "ing" verbs are non finite. 
This simply means they don't occur alone. They occur with only one auxiliary verb (the auxiliary 'be') to form progressive aspects. This simply means you cannot just say "eating," you must say "is eating" as in "Tammy is eating."  (See the first feature discussed above for more examples).

However, If and when they occur alone, they initiate a non finite clause. A non finite clause is a dependent clause that is headed by a non finite verb( which an 'ing' verb).
  • He entered the classroom room putting his hands in his pocket.
  • They ran to their mother crying for help.
  • Returning home after a busy day at school, Tammy stopped at the restaurant to take a drink.
In the above examples, you can see that there is no addition of any of the different forms of the auxiliary verb, 'be' (am, is, was etc) before the "ing" verbs. That is to show that they can actually occur alone but for it to be possible, they initiate a non finite clause. The underlined clause is a non finite clause.

In sum, any "ing" verb that does not possess the aforetioned features is not an "ing" verb.