I have a sentence:

She's very busy working three jobs.

Is that present continuous? it confuses me that there is a verb in ing after an adjective

Or is a gerund?


  • Asked before on ELL, but no adequate answer. Jan 7, 2020 at 17:50
  • 1
    Here, the sentence is "She's very busy." and the remaining tells 'how'.
    – Ram Pillai
    Feb 7, 2020 at 10:29

1 Answer 1


'Working' in 'She's busy working [three jobs]' is a complement of the adjective 'busy', not a type of second predicate. In The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston & Pullum; 2002) (p 1259):

Gerund-participial complements

The adjectives busy and worth/worthwhile license complements of this form:

She was busy preparing her report.

These objections aren't worth bothering about.

It isn't worth taking the matter any further.

CGEL gives further analysis of the 'worth / worthwhile' examples.


Contrast 'She's very tired, [what with] working such long hours'

and 'She's very busy, [what with] doing three jobs'

which use adjuncts, here (ignoring the what with's) participial clauses of reason (or expansion perhaps, in the latter example).

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