How to convert verbs to nouns, and nouns to adjectives?

I was told that if I put an -ing to the end of a verb, the verb could become an adjective or a noun. For example:

read → reading
interest → interesting
talk → talking

But I also find that not all the nouns related to verbs are formed by adding -ing to them.

I am confused about these nouns, like decision and suggestion. Why can one not use deciding, suggesting instead?

  • I've ever learnt a technique: of + noun -> adjective. e.g. it is of necessity a man of kindness a lady of her beauty, etc...
    – hykw
    Mar 7, 2018 at 6:54

2 Answers 2


Adding -ing to a verb can lead to a few grammatical possibilities:

  1. One possibility is the creation of a present participle which, in combination with the auxiliary verb "be", forms one of the continuous tenses. (For example, I am running, he was waiting)
  2. Another possibility is the creation of an adjective. (For example, a boring day, an exciting phone call)
  3. A third possibility is the creation of a gerund, which is a noun form that usually refers to an activity. (For example, Sleeping is good, I enjoy swimming)

Nouns like decision and suggestion are more abstract and do not refer to an activity. Both these words are classified as nouns due to their noun endings (-ion). In addition, both can be used together with a definite or indefinite article (a / the) while deciding and suggesting cannot. (Just by the way, there are a number of endings that signify that a particular word is a noun.)

The examples given in the question were interesting:

read = verb
reading = gerund (e.g. I like reading)/ present participle (e.g. I am reading)/ adjective (e.g. reading room)

interest = verb (to interest sb/sth) OR noun (an interest in sb/sth)
interesting = adjective

talk = verb OR noun (a talk on sth)
talking = gerund (e.g. Talking is not always useful) / present participle (e.g. We have been talking to each other a lot) / adjective (e.g. a talking doll)

My final thought is that it is often quite difficult to generalise a rule in English. A lot depends on the context in which the part of speech occurs.


Both decision and deciding are nouns, but they have different meanings, same as suggestion and suggesting.

A decision refers to the choice someone has made. A deciding refers to the act of them making that choice.

And similarly, a suggestion refers to the... suggestion (I can't think of a simpler synonym!) and a suggesting refers to the act of giving suggestions.

Deciding and suggesting can also be used as verbs. And deciding is also a common adjective, with a different meaning again: that it was the last crucial factor in some issue.

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