One of the most common challenges facing many learners of Business English is when to use ‘-ing’. Whilst there are many different rules governing this -e.g. Do we need a ‘continuous’ form, do we need a gerund (a verb made into a noun), there are some basic rules that can help you in any situation.

Verbs can broadly be divided up into two categories:

  1. Stative – verbs which describe the state of the person or a feeling. For example the words know and mean are both stative verbs: Correct would be: “I know what you mean”. Incorrect would be: I am knowing what you are meaning as bth ‘know’ and ‘mean’ are stative verbs.
  2. Active – verbs. These verbs, also known as dynamic verbs, describe actions like sitting, running, talking, playing etc. These verbs can be used with -ing but can also be used without -ing.

In the pdf file below, you will find a list of verbs which are never used with -ing as well as some verbs that are very rarely used with -ing.

Changing language:

One note of caution is that whilst most of the rules of language stay the same, new words and new ways to use English pop up all the time. A classic example is the stative verb ‘love’. In the past, this was never used with -ing, but thanks to the popularity of the mcDonald’s slogan “I’m loving it”, some people have started using it as an active verb. For example, during a particuarly exciting football game, it would not be unusal to see someone write on twitter “I’m loving this game!”.


For the most part though, these are very rare occasions and you should stick to the list below. London School students should print this off and add it to their Business English folder.

Download (PDF, 41KB)


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