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Are you confused by this confusing choice?

Another common confusion is when to use the “ed” ending of an adjective (confused) versus the “ing” ending (confusing).


Clients are often puzzled by this puzzling question.

This example shows that when talking about a person’s emotion/feeling, the ending is “ed” and when talking about a situation, the ending is “ing”.

I’m surprised by the result.

It was a surprising result.

In addition to describing a situation, an “ing” ending can also be used to describe a person’s characteristic and a thing:

He’s an amazing doctor.

It’s an amazing book.


It was an amazing holiday.


She was amazed by his colourful clothes.

So the e in “ed” can help to remind that we’re talking about emotions and feelings, otherwise it’s “ing”.

Examples of adjective pairs used like this are: bored/boring, embarrassed/embarrassing, excited/exciting, depressed/depressing, interested/interesting, relaxed/relaxing and tired/tiring.

Of course these aren’t the only endings for adjectives, but they are the two that are the most confusing.

Some other common confusions are explained herehereherehere and here.

Are you confused by something in English? Please get in touch.

© Christina Wielgolawski