As far as I know, poetry can and often does break some limits of sentence and word structure if it is required by its rhythm or rhyme. I am translating one, and the perfect ending of a line would be the word "greening" in the sense of "being green", "having green leaves". The question is whether it is grammatically correct to say that "a tree is greening" because personally, being not a native speaker, I haven't met such an expression. Most websites (for example, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/english/greening) provide the meaning of the word "greening" similarly to the following:

The process of becoming more active about protecting the environment

Or one of several sorts of green apples.

However, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/green#h1 provides a couple of meanings of "to green" as a verb:

To make green To become green

So "greening", as a gerund form of the verb "to green" could be used in my context, couldn't it?

  • 1
    There are so many different meanings of "green" that it's impossible to give a reasonably complete answer.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:05
  • Interesting, I haven't heard of a citrus tree disease called like that. I don't think it may cause any misunderstanding in my case because the tree is a sycamore.
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:41
  • 1
    Pretty much any causative verb (like green, meaning 'make green', as in The Greening of America) can also be used as an inchoative verb. Redden, to choose a different color that has a causative/inchoative suffix, can mean either 'make something red' (a causative sense) or 'turn/become red' (an inchoative change-of-state sense). It's just not as common, but with the added semantic and political senses of green these days, it's gonna get more common. Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


It’s somewhat uncommon to see green used this way, but it is done:

Along my back porch in the herb bed the chive plants were greening and would soon be thick enough to cut.

Incubus, 1999

This is the continuous, not a gerund.

  • Thank you. This quote is definitely a good example.
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:32

It's unusual to use 'green' as a verb. However, some dictionaries have used it as a verb.

Green (verb - used with or without object): to become or make green.

Green (verb - intransitive, transitive): to become or make green

Origin: Old English grēne (adjective), grēnian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch groen, German grün, also to grass and grow.

From Merriam Webster:


(verb) greened; greening; greens Definition of green (Entry 3 of 6) transitive verb

1: to make green 2: REJUVENATE, REVITALIZE intransitive verb

Intransitive verb :to become green Origin by MW: before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

You can use it as a verb but it's very rare.

  • Thanks for the explanation. No doubt, Merriam Webster is a reliable source.
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 12:37

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