An English Club learner friend of mine recently asked me a question about the following phrase: Being seriously injured which was used to talk about a dog. She expressed some confusion about our ing and ed forms. I thought that there must be others who are confused about these endings to our verbs and how we use them. So I am creating a blog to try to clear up this issue. It is a long and detailed blog. So read it little by little and try to understand a little bit at a time. If you make it to the end and understand it all, congratulate yourself because I usually teach my students all of this in 6 lessons.
Do you ever get lost in the confusing maze of our 'ING' forms? This definitely is a confusing part of English. In English we have the ‘ing’ ending. We put it on the end of a verb to use the verb in different ways than we normally use it. This form has many jobs in English. I recommend that you think of this form in three ways. The three main jobs are:
1. Verb tenses: Continuous/Progressive action for a period of time
We use the ing form with our tenses (present, past, future, etc) to emphasize action that continues or progresses for a period of time. We call these forms of our tenses Continuous or Progressive (you will see both terms for the same thing). These actions don't start and then stop; they continue.
A. Present continuous - I am eating my dinner now so I am busy for a while.
B. Past continuous - I was eating my dinner last night when my sister called me.
C. Future continuous - Soon I will be eating my dinner for a while but I can talk now.
D. Present perfect continuous - I have been eating my dinner at 8 PM for many years. (This has continued for many years up to the present moment and hasn't stopped yet. Each occurrence was a continuous action).
E. Past perfect continuous – I had been eating my dinner at 8 PM for many years until I decided to eat earlier at 7 PM. (A previous action continued for many years in a continuous manner each time before a certain event occurred - I suddenly changed my habits)
There are other tenses that use the continuous/progressive but we don't use them very much at all. So adding the continuous form to a tense just emphasizes action that is continuing. We picture ourselves in the middle of the action as it is, was or will be occurring. It is not action that started and stopped.
2. Present Participle –
This form of the ing verb is used to describe things like an adjective describes things. They are used with nouns. You can say the energetic (adjective) man or the jumping (present participle) man. When we use the present participle we are talking about actions or activities the man does. So because it is action, we say it is active. The laughing girl insulted her friend. The girl actively does the action where she laughs. We could also say the girl who laughed insulted her friend. But it is shorter to say the laughing girl. Remember that this is only used to express an active meaning. Sometimes we can use the present participle after a thing to describe it. I saw the man jumping into the swimming pool. Jump is not an actual verb tense here. It is like an adjective that describes the man. Which man or what is is he like? I describe him as jumping.
3. Gerunds - This form of the ing verb acts like a noun or a thing. It is not a verb tense, it is not an adjective, it is a verb that acts like a noun. I can say charity is a good thing to practice. Or I can use a gerund instead. Giving money to the poor is a good thing to practice. I like eating food from other countries. I like to experiment with speaking in different accents. The gerund can be used in the same situations that nouns can be used.
Now it all gets more confusing when we introduce the past participle. If a verb follows the rules (regular) we simply add the letters ed to make the past participle form. It looks exactly like the past tense form, but it is used differently.
Past tense: He liked sports as a child. Past participle: He was liked by many children as a child.
If the verb is irregular, it doesn't use the ed. It will use many different endings that don't follow the rules. And many times the past participle is different than the past form. We have to memorize these irregular forms.
Past tense: The British ran the company for 5 years. Past Participle: The company was run by the British for 5 years.
The past participle (just like the present participle) is also used as an adjective to describe things. But while the present participle describes a person or thing by emphasizing the action it does, the past participle describes a person or thing by the action it receives or the way it feels. For example the dog was walked by his owner. Did the dog walk the owner? No. The dog received the action. It was walked by the owner. So we say the dog was passive by receiving the action from the owner.
The past participle is also used to talk about our feelings or conditions. We have feelings because things happen to us. In the case of feelings, we use the past participle as follows: the girl was worried all day about her parents. It is how she felt because something happened to her parents and this fact affected her. We can also say, the worried girl was concerned about her parents.
A thing can be in a specific condition because it receives action. The written homework was difficult. The homework was written by a student.
BEING SERIOUSLY INJURED
So now we can get to the phrase that started all of this - Being seriously Injured was used to talk about a dog.
We call this a phrase because it is more than one word. We use all these three words together as one meaning. So it is a phrase. This phrase can be used as either a gerund or a present participle. Let me give you simple examples first. Let’s use being first.
Being happy is a good thing – Being happy is called a gerund phrase. It starts with an ing form which is used as a noun. But happy is part of the phrase. Being happy is the action of experiencing happiness. So being happy is used like a noun or a thing. It is the state of happiness.
Being very happy, the little girl sang a song. Being very happy is called a participial phrase. It starts with an ing form which is used to describe the little girl, so it is a participle, not a gerund. What kind of little girl is this. She is one who is being very happy. This is how we describe her.
Now the word injured in our phrase adds more confusion. Because injured is a past participle that describes the fact that the dog passively received an injury. So the dog is injured.
So what you now have is a combination of the ing form and the ed form in one large phrase. So the dog is actively experiencing (being) something. The dog is actively experiencing something that it received passively. So the confusing part is that it is a combination of active, first and passive second.
Now I can use this larger phrase as either a gerund or a participle. The first example that follows (a) is a gerund. The gerund phrase is used like a noun or a thing. The second example (b) is a participial phrase that describes the dog like an adjective.
(a)Being seriously injured is a very dangerous thing for a dog to experience.
Being seriously injured = the active experience of receiving an injury passively
(b)The dog, being seriously injured, crawled to his owner.
Being seriously injured = a description of the dog which helps us understand why it crawled. Normally it would run.
Check the following: The (1) interesting speaker (2) interested me so much that I was quite (3) interested in his topic. (4) Interesting another person in a topic is not always easy.
Can you identify the forms 1, 2, 3 and 4 used above?
If you made it to this point and you understand all of this, I give you kudos. Kudos are recognition of a task well done. Maybe you would rather have a gift.
If you are totally confused, think of this as simply an exposure to the topic. You may need to learn other things first, before you learn this topic.