Why so many –ing nouns (present participles) do not take the definite article “the”?


For example we do not say:

I look forward to the seeing you, or in the doing so.

But sometimes we say:

In the beginning, in the fighting, the ruling, etc.

As such, is there any different rule concerning the –ing nouns or they should follow the same rules as the common nouns do?

Lucian Sava

Posted 2015-07-07T08:18:18.700

Reputation: 11 342

2Are you sure seeing and doing are nouns in those first examples? I suspect most people will interpret them as verbs. – oerkelens – 2015-07-07T08:43:48.217

3Right, what oerkelens said. Sometimes -ing forms are verb forms, sometimes they're nouns. Look at their modification, complementation, and inflectional forms to see. – snailplane – 2015-07-07T08:45:31.000

Note that beginning, fighting, and ruling have their own noun definitions, probably not only in Macmillan Dictionary. -- Also note that look forward to our meeting or look forward to the meeting is surely possible. -- And this is also possible: I'm looking forward to our seeing each other again.

– Damkerng T. – 2015-07-07T09:31:27.813

@oerkelens, I' m not sure but in the sentence: "Seeing is good, doing is bad.", seeing and doing are not subjects and subjects are not nouns? – Lucian Sava – 2015-07-07T09:35:58.843

In seeing is good, doing is bad, they are indeed nouns. But there are no articles needed, just as in men are from Mars, women are from Venus. – oerkelens – 2015-07-07T09:42:13.997

Thank you @oerkelens, actually this is what I'm asking if they follow the same patterns as the ordinary nouns. – Lucian Sava – 2015-07-07T09:53:32.290

2When they are truly used as nouns, they act like other nouns, indeed. But When they are used as verbs they are and behave differently. – oerkelens – 2015-07-07T10:49:34.420

@oerkelens, I upvoted your last comment for this is what I actually needed to know. – Lucian Sava – 2015-07-07T14:56:23.977



'seeing' is not a noun there. It's a verb. And due to 'look forward...' pattern, it takes the verb in the form of '-ing'.

I look forward to see seeing you.

Does the question still stand?

Maulik V

Posted 2015-07-07T08:18:18.700

Reputation: 66 188

Thank you! So, when they are nouns, they follow the same patterns as the ordinary nouns, right?-:) – Lucian Sava – 2015-07-07T09:59:52.480

1Nouns have no pattern! They are the verbs! Stop thinking about 'look forward to', take some other example and it'll be clear. – Maulik V – 2015-07-07T10:10:19.363


Simply because it is shorter, because the article does not achieve much, and because without article the sense is as clear as with article.


Posted 2015-07-07T08:18:18.700

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