Why do we call the painting “painting” when it’s already done?

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Why do we call the painting “painting” when it’s already done?

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-ing is used for verbs (actions) in the present tense, yes. “He is painting”. But it is also used to make nouns (*things*) from verbs.

> Used to form nouns or noun-like words (or elements of noun phrases) from verbs, denoting the act of doing something, an action, or **the embodiment of an action**.

There are other examples – drawing, booking, viewing, hearing, etc.

It’s called a ***gerund***. Word usually associated with action being used as a noun instead of a verb. Example: Fishing is my favorite hobby. Fishing is normally a verb, but in the case it’s the subject of the sentence. They usually end in -ing.

In English, we have something called “verbal nouns” where an action word is not only an action, but also the name of the action or the result of an action (so it becomes a thing). One common form is using action words ending in ‘-ing’. Painting, gardening, ringing, etc.

There’s even a special word for certain uses of the ‘-ing’ verbal nouns called “gerunds”. The word word “painting” can be used both as a verbal noun or as a gerund. The difference between the two is kind of tricky, but if the -ing word is the subject or direct object of a sentence, and refers to an idea rather than a physical object, then it’s a gerund. Gerunds always end in -ing, but verbal nouns don’t need to. Gerunds are always singular, but verbal nouns don’t have to be.

OP; For many actions you take that result in an end product, the end result – the product – gets the name of that action + “ing”

The action is to Build -> the end result is a Building

The action is to Draw -> the end result is a Drawing

The action is to Paint -> the end result is a Painting

The action is to Th -> the end result is a Thing (ok, I cheated here)

The action to Row does not result in a product or thing, so it doesn’t work.

Its a lazy way of designating the end result, but it works!

And no, there’s other stuff that doesn’t work like that and we all know some examples.

It’s a part of grammar known as a “gerund”. That’s the term for turning a verb into a noun by using its “-ing” form. It doesn’t happen with just “painting”:

“that building”, “that drawing of a building”, “that posting on the board”, “the writing on the wall”, etc.

Even if it’s not a typically used gerund, people will still understand you if you invent a new one by taking any verb and using the -ing version as if it was a noun. Even if it’s the first time anyone heard that gerund so it sounds strange, they’ll still understand the meaning.

“I’m here at the polls. Where is the voting again?”

“How is the cooking going?”

“That was a boring trip, but I’m glad the driving is over.”

I can see a slight difference between two kinds of gerunds though: The kind where the noun is “the activity” and the kind where the noun is “the object that results from the activity”. “Painting”, “Building”, and “Drawing” refer to the object that was the result of the activity, while my “driving”, “cooking”, and “voting” examples refer to the action of doing the verb. If they worked like “a painting” worked, then “a voting” would be a filled-in ballot, and “a cooking” would be a meal.

It’s an interesting aspect of British Vs. American English, I’m not going to try and get the part of speech right, but you can take a noun from a verb by adding -ing and it’s more common in British English than American.

For example, we might say Painting, Drawing, or Building in American English, ok. But British English also adds words like “washing” for laundry and “shopping” for stuff you bought at the grocery store.

It’s just a way of naming the *thing* you get as the result of a verb.

Are you the ghost of Mitch Hedberg?