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Is the word shocking in this sentence being used as a gerund or present participle? And why?

We heard shocking news.

My daughter had recently taken an English test at a Korean middle school. The test was designed by a Korean teacher teaching the class. There was a question that I can't seem to understand the answer to. The test was based on gerunds, present participles, and past participles.

The question is written below.

Which of the following has a different grammatical use?

  1. We heard shocking news.
  2. The new game looks interesting.
  3. The band is performing on the stage.
  4. We have been waiting for her for three hours.
  5. A great form of exercise is walking with your partner.

The answer is 5. Aren't 1 and 5 both being used as gerunds?

I asked around a bit more in a Korean community and the explanation was that 1 is a present participle because shocking is used as an adjective. So then I asked if are all words expressing a kind of feeling used as an adjective with the -ing considered a present participle? And the reply I got was a yes.

I hope this edit would make my question more understandable than before. Someone in the comments suggested that I edit it with all this information included. I'm new to this community and would really love to hear different opinions.

As I've done my end of research on different sites that explain grammar.

On one website, I read that Gerunds are used as nouns, while present participles are used as adjectives and continuous verbs.

Then would the explanation I got from the Korean community be correct considering that the test was made purely to test students on their ability to differentiate between gerunds, present participles, and past participles?

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    It's neither. "Shocking news" is here a noun phrase headed by the noun "news", which is modified by the participial adjective "shocking". We know it's an adjective because it can be modified by "very"; "We heard some very shocking news".
    – BillJ
    Dec 18, 2023 at 15:38
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    There are different views on how ing-forms should be analysed, so you will get different answers on ELU (and certainly answers different from those the test expects). Some here reject the term 'gerund' completely as it's used in conflicting ways. // (1) and (2) are participial adjective usages; (3) and (4) are past participles used with auxiliaries (is; have been); (5) is a 'more nouny' usage, traditionally called a gerund by many: note that 'A great form of exercise is yoga' parallels (5), but also that the series (5-) A great form of exercise is walking. ... Dec 18, 2023 at 16:06
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    (5) A great form of exercise is walking with your partner. ... (5+) A great way to exercise is walking the dog. get progressively more verby. Dec 18, 2023 at 16:06
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    Generally, if the word can be modified by "very", it's an adjective. And likewise if it can occur as complement to complex-intransitive verbs like "become" ("It became quite shocking") or complex-transitive verbs like "find" ("I found it quite shocking").
    – BillJ
    Dec 18, 2023 at 16:11
  • In reversible specifying constructions like Edwin's example "a great way to exercise is walking the dog", the gerund-participial (ing) clause is predicative complement of "be". Cf', "Walking the dog is a great way to exercise".
    – BillJ
    Dec 18, 2023 at 16:41

1 Answer 1

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We heard [shocking news].

"Shocking" is an adjective here not a verb, though it is formed by conversion from the present participle "shocking".

"Shocking news" is a noun phrase headed by the noun "news", which is modified by the participial adjective "shocking".

We know it's an adjective because it can be modified by "very": "We heard some very shocking news".

Generally, if the word can be modified by "very", it's an adjective. And likewise, if it can occur as complement to complex-intransitive verbs like "become" ("It became quite shocking") or complex-transitive verbs like "find" ("I found it quite shocking").

Other examples include: "It was a (very) entertaining show"; "The performance was (very) boring".

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