My English student asked me: "Video-conference and video-conferencing, is there any difference between them?" Is Video-conference a countable noun and Video-conferencing an uncountable noun? Is Video-conferencing formed using a gerund? Is that why it is uncountable?

  • Did your student have some example sentences and context for the sentences? And I suggested migrating this to the English Language Learners Stack Exchange. – Teacher KSHuang Jan 4 '17 at 8:51
  • Video conference can be a noun ("I will join the video conference"), or a verb ("Video conference with John to work this out"). Video conferencing is a verb ("I'm video conferencing with John"), or modifies a noun ("He used the video conferencing equipment"), but is never a noun itself (wrong: "I have a video conferencing this afternoon"). – jimm101 Jan 5 '17 at 16:53

Per Dictionary.com

Conferencing (noun,gerund)

  1. Participation in a conference that involves use of a particular electronic technology : audio conferencing; computer conferencing.

Conference (noun)

  1. A meeting for consultation or discussion:

Taking the second question first, yes conferencing is form using a gerund, although I have never heard this used alone in a sentence. This form is used as you described, "we support video-conferencing" or "a common form of office communication is video-conferencing". Video-conferencing is used when talking about video-conferencing in general.

Taking the first question, no conferencing is not a countable noun. I would never use this to describe multiple conferences. Also, people don't "go conferencing" they "go to conferences" or "present at conferences" or "have several video-conferences to resolve the issue". Video-conference is used for a single, specific video-conference.

Taking the general question of "is there a difference?", yes I would use:

  • Video-conference as a noun to represent a single event, "I will arrange a video-conference"
  • Video-conferencing as both a gerund and rarely a verb referring to either a general statement or the action, "we often participate in video-conferencing" or "I prefer face to face to video-conferencing". I say rarely a verb because although it is technically correct to say "don't interrupt me around lunchtime, I will be video-conferencing", typically this is not used, rather I would say "don't interrupt me, I will be on a video-conference"
  • Video-conferences as the plural for a video-conference. "we will organize a series of video-conferences"
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