This post says

It gives you an alphabetical listing of valid names (attributes) in the scope (object). This is pretty much the meaning of the word directory in english.

As a non-native english speaker, I would say "It gives you an alphabetical list of valid names".

I've no clue whether it is a gerund or a present participle, I don't know if the expression listing of valid names is idiomatic either.

Are both "listing of items" and "list of items", grammatical and idiomatic? If yes, when should I use the former?

Any help would be appreciated.

I know both list and listing could be used as an noun, and they are synonyms. I've searched these on Oxford dictionary and didn't get a guide when should I use listing.

  • 1
    Hello, yaojp. ELU is probably different from most sites in that a reasonable amount of (linked and correctly attributed) research is expected to be given with questions. Are there no example sentences in online dictionaries that fit either of these patterns? // That said, the difference between 'listing of articles' and 'list of presents' say is/are subtle, and will doubtless be ... er ... enlisted after you've shown some research. Sep 30, 2019 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


Firstly, both list and listing are commonly used as count nouns, and they are synonymous.

But secondly, though their denotations are virtually identical, in some situations, one is easily the preferred choice.

a shopping list

Consistently ranked in the top four of the Financial Times listings

The Cambridge Business English Dictionary largely emphasises the synonymity:

listing noun [C]

a list, or one part of a list:

Here you will find a comprehensive listing of all transportation websites.

Do you have a phone listing for A. P. Morrow Inc?

though the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus points out what it sees as an additional requirement for 'listing' (and adds the 'item on a list' sense):

listing noun [C] (RECORD)

a list of information that is published regularly, or an item on this list:

I'll check the TV listings to see what's on tonight.

The site maintains a listing of free events for children in the area.

Both 'list of NP' and 'listing of NP' are regularly found.

I'd say that the difference is essentially one of register (as in the first examples): mundane / naive vs 'advanced' / sophisticated / official (wannabe?) / technical. 'TV listings' is doubtless an appeal for respectability.

The choice of the ing-form variant where both it and an associated 'normal' noun are available often stresses the action rather than the article / deed ... (eg 'walking [is good for you]' / 'a walk'), but here I believe that nuance is eclipsed by the formal / informal flavour.

  • Thank you so much. What does "NP" stands for?
    – JJJohn
    Sep 30, 2019 at 12:11
  • Any (suitable, here) noun phrase. A list of local newsagents / a listing of next week's programmes. Sep 30, 2019 at 12:35

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