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I've looked up some dictionaries online, but they list "croon" as either a verb or a noun. Can "crooning" be used as an adjective?

For example, She sat listening to a soft, crooning song.

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    (Almost) all ing forms of verbs can be used as an adjective, which is why dictionaries don't bother to mention it with every single verb. – oerkelens Apr 14 '18 at 7:05
  • Yes, as oerkelens said. You might just as easily find your example "She sat listening to a soft, crooning song" or "She sat listening to (someone) crooning a (soft) song…" – Robbie Goodwin May 1 '18 at 19:48
  • @oerkelens was doing to answer yes but could not find a single dictionary to cite such. – lbf May 16 '18 at 20:17
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    Singers croon, songs don't croon. To croon is to sing or hum in a low voice and in a sentimental way. – Lambie Jul 15 '18 at 20:35
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Yes (and no).

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) lists examples of crooning as an adjective as far back as 1599:

Be cruining Bulls of heigh and haughtie minde.

Cruining is just an older, alternative spelling of crooning. There were many alternative spellings of words before dictionaries. That example is by Alexander Hugh from Hymnes, or sacred songs.

George Eliot wrote in Adam Bede in 1859

The cocks and hens..made only crooning subdued noises.

The inimitable PG Wodehouse wrote in Blandings Castle (1935)

Everybody knows what Crooning Tenors are... They sit at the piano and gaze into a girl's eyes and sing in a voice that sounds like gas escaping from a pipe about Love and the Moonlight and You.

But of course he is writing facetiously and often used modifiers in ways such as using them before objects when describing the actor/subject: he put the rueful kettle on the stove, such that that which is rueful is the one who put the kettle on, not the kettle (which is an example I made up, but not unlike how Wodehouse used adjectives).

In short, yes you can say

She sat listening to a soft, crooning song.

But, some readers may not think it a very good usage, if they think that it is not really the song that is crooning, but the singer of the song. So it may come across as having the same effect as that of a dangling or other misplaced modifier. If I were writing this sentence I might choose a different way to write it, so that it avoids the use of crooning as modifying song. To many, a song doesn't croon; a singer does.

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Your example is flawed in two ways. Croon; is "soft, low voice or tone" and related to being melodic and musical. So, 'soft, crooning song' says the same thing, three times. It is redundant. "She sat listening to the crooning wind move through the forest." would work though.

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  • Yes, I was wondering if "crooning" could be used that way. Your example clearly means the wind was crooning or singing, so it would grammatically work either way. But I've been seeing some examples in Google Books that use "crooning" as an adjective before a noun like a "song." For example: a slow crooning song. I'm not familiar with this usage, so I asked. – skywardhope Apr 16 '18 at 20:15
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    @skywardhope English can be very tough. Some sentences that are expressively correct, are not grammatically correct. "Frank Sinatra was known as a 'crooner'. The slow, low, moody feeling of his tempo and music gave crooning songs a standard bearer. " It works, but is not grammatically correct. – Norman Edward Apr 16 '18 at 20:42
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    Redundancy is not ungrammatical. – MetaEd May 16 '18 at 15:25
  • This answer is right on. In any case, a person croons, a song does not croon. That's the main point. I do not get these downvotes for the life of me. – Lambie Jul 15 '18 at 20:31
  • There are soft songs and there are loud songs. "Soft song" is in no way redundant. Ditto for crooning. Croon doesn't just mean to sing softly, no matter what the dictionary you got the definition out of says. This dictionary defines it as to sing or talk in a sweet, low voice full of emotion. It's not redundant. – Peter Shor Nov 26 '18 at 12:16

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