In English, there are quite a few pairs of adjectives one of which ends in -ed and the other in -ing, for example, excited/exciting, bored /boring, inspired/inspiring. The adjectives in each pair are very different in meaning, and yet, as they look so similar, English learners often find them confusing. If you too find it difficult to use them correctly, then read on.

The reason why such adjectives cause so much trouble for English learners is that they deal with the same emotion, be it excitement, boredom or inspiration. However, -ed and -ing adjectives do so from different perspectives.

Adjectives ending in -ing describe a quality in something or someone that can make you feel in a particular way.

By contrast, adjectives ending in -ed describe your feelings.

Interesting books arouse our interest, they make us feel interested.

Inspiring teachers inspire their students to further their studies, so their students feel inspired.

Some more examples to illustrate the difference in use between -ed and -ing adjectives:

He’s such a boring person! (What’s he like? Boring.)

I’m bored to tears with him! (How does he make me feel? Bored.)

The scientists made a shocking discovery. (What was the discovery like? Shocking.)

The scientists were shocked to discover that rats could behave in such a way. (How did the scientists feel? Shocked.)

Hope you’ll never get confused by these adjectives again!

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