Adding ED and ING to verbs to create tense changes is pretty simple in English.  However, using ED and ING adjectives correctly can be trickier.

The difference in meaning between ED and ING adjectives is often subtle but important!  To a native English speaker, the difference between “I am bored,” and “I am boring” is HUGE.  The main difference is that “I am bored” describes the speaker’s feeling; “I am boring” describes the speaker’s character or personality.  Said in another way, “I am boring” means that the speaker causes other people to “feel bored”!

In simple terms, -ED adjectives describe a feeling or emotion.  -ING verbs describe a thing or situation.

Another way to look at it is that using –ED adjectives is a way to describe a personal feeling about something.  –ING adjectives describe a general observation.  For example, if I say, “I’m bored,” this doesn’t necessarily mean that I expect other people feel bored too.  However, if I say, “This is boring,” it means that I likely expect that others feel bored as well.

In this sense, using an –ED adjectives to describe personal feelings is much less assertive than using an –ING adjective.  Therefore, when making an observation, a sentence with an –ED adjective is often softer than a sentence with the same word in an –ING form.

Examples:

  • There’s nothing to do.  I’m bored.  (“Bored” describes my feeling)
  • There’s nothing to do.  Today is boring. (“Boring” describes the day)
  • I’m really excited to see this new movie! (“Excited” describes my feeling)
  • The new movie looks so exciting! (“Exciting” describes the movie)
  • She was surprised by the birthday gift. (“Surprised” describes her feeling)
  • The birthday gift was surprising. (“Surprising” describes the gift)
  • I’m confused.  Can you explain that again? (“Confused” describes my feeling)
  • That’s confusing.  Can you explain that again? (“Confused” describes what was said)