bored vs. boring

Most verbs which express emotions, such as to bore, may use either the present or the past participle as an adjective, but the meaning of the participles is different. The -ing form expresses the cause of the emotion, and the -ed form expresses the result.


The movie was boring, so I was bored.

The movie was the cause of my emotion, so it is described with an -ing form. My emotion, the result, is described with an -ed form. The following table summarizes this.

Active Sentence Describe Cause Describe Result
The movie bored me. The movie was boring. I was bored.
The lecture interested me. The lecture was interesting. I was interested.
The game excited me. The game was exciting. I was excited.
The news alarmed me. The news was alarming. I was alarmed.
The monster frightened me. The monster was frightening. I was frightened.
The comedian amused me. The comedian was amusing. I was amused.

We can see from the examples that the -ing form refers to the subject of the active sentence, and the -ed form refers to the object of the active sentence. In the first example, boring refers to movie (subject) and bored refers to me (object) in the active sentence.

We can also see that things can only be described with the -ing form because things cannot have emotions. People, on the other hand, can be described with either -ing or -ed forms because they can produce emotions in other people or experience emotions themselves.

Here is a table of the most common "emotive" verbs:

Verb Pres. Participle Past Participle
aggravate aggravating aggravated
alarm alarming alarmed
amaze amazing amazed
amuse amusing amused
annoy annoying annoyed
appall appalling appalled
astonish astonishing astonished
astound astounding astounded
bewilder bewildering bewildered
bore boring bored
calm calming calmed
captivate captivating captivated
challenge challenging challenged
charm charming charmed
comfort comforting comforted
compel compelling compelled
confuse confusing confused
convince convincing convinced
depress depressing depressed
devastate devastating devastating
disappoint disappointing disappointed
disgust disgusting disgusted
distract distracting distracted
distress distressing distressed
disturb disturbing disturbed
embarrass embarrassing embarrassed
enchant enchanting enchanted
encourage encouraging encouraged
entertain entertaining entertained
excite exciting excited
frighten frightening frightened
humiliate humiliating humiliated
infuriate infuriating infuriated
inspire inspiring inspired
insult insulting insulted
interest interesting interested
intimidate intimidating intimidated
intrigue intriguing intrigued
mislead misleading misled
mystify mystifying mystified
overwhelm overwhelming overwhelmed
please pleasing pleased
puzzle puzzling puzzled
refresh refreshing refreshed
relax relaxing relaxed
reward rewarding rewarded
satisfy satisfying satisfied
shock shocking shocked
sicken sickening sickened
startle startling startled
surprise surprising surprised
tempt tempting tempted
terrify terrifying terrified
threaten threatening threatened
tire tiring tired
welcome welcoming welcomed
worry worrying worried

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This page was last modified on 07/9/11