Some words like "reading", "working" and etc can get the plural s to form forms like "workings", "readings". They, in fact, act as nouns, while some other ones can't get that s, like, "going", "living" etc.

My question is how to find out what -ing ending words can or cannot get that s?
Is there any clear rule on this question?

closed as off-topic by Edwin Ashworth, Helmar, curiousdannii, NVZ, Rory Alsop Sep 4 '16 at 20:51

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  • 2
    Such ing-forms are at the nounal end of the spectrum and are called deverbal nouns. Better dictionaries will give the -s form where applicable. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 4 '16 at 8:12
  • goings is perfectly acceptable in the right contexts. I'd say they all are. – curiousdannii Sep 4 '16 at 11:31
  • If you want to know whether you can add the s legitimately in a word game, you can consult a Scrabble dictionary. If you're a novice speaker of English, and want to know if a particular plural is common enough for you to use with confidence, google will be your friend. – aparente001 Sep 4 '16 at 14:49
  • @aparente001: So there is no rule on the problem! – Franky Sep 4 '16 at 15:48
  • There is the execrable 'learnings' (meaning things that have been learned). Against my convictions, it seems to be a word now. – Mitch Sep 4 '16 at 15:53

The point is that most deverbal nouns (thanks @Edwin Ashworth) can be plural. For example Bible readings, Mine workings. However many present participles do not form nouns, for example there is, I think, no sense in which one could speak of 'a going' so the plural goings does not exist.

By the way there is a noun living and therefore a plural livings, it refers to the employment of Church of England parish priests. See this link http://www.duchyoflancaster.co.uk/about-the-duchy/appointments/church-livings/

  • 1
    Lots of people use the phrase comings and goings, so goings can indeed be pluralized. – Peter Shor Sep 4 '16 at 11:19
  • @PeterShor: I see. But not all of present participles form plural forms. – Franky Sep 4 '16 at 12:41
  • @Bold Ben: Good tool! (+1) We can use 'a' for each present participle to see whether it makes sense or not. If it makes, so I can use its plural form. – Franky Sep 4 '16 at 12:44
  • Also: ... make their livings ... – Carsten S Sep 14 '17 at 12:49

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