Are you confused or confusing?

January 16, 2020
January 16, 2020 Rochel deOliveira

When you speak, are you confused or confusing?

If you are a foreign-born English speaker with grammar challenges, read on. This particular issue comes up with some of our accent reduction students.

In this picture, who is “boring” and who is “bored”?

Are you confused or confusing with American accent grammar problems

During a conversation with an American accent client, if I hear “I was so exciting…”, I immediately get suspicious, realizing they probably really didn’t mean that. (Not that anyone we work with isn’t exciting, haha!)

“Exciting” is the condition of causing others to feel excitement. A great movie or experience can be exciting.

“Excited” is the state of experiencing excitement: how one feels watching the movie. “I was so excited during that exciting movie.” It is often a temporary feeling.

Adding the -ed or -ing suffix to certain root verbs (e.g. “bore”, “excite”) can result in a dramatically different meaning and it is confusing.

Verb + -ed ending = having a feeling
Verb + -ing ending = causing a feeling

People and some animals have feelings. So you can say: ” “I am satisfied.” “My dog is worried.”

People, animals, situations, ideas, and things in general can cause feelings. “That podcast is inspiring.” “The news was surprising.” “Brad is so boring.”  “I am distracted by all the distracting things on the Internet.”

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Here are a few more word pairs where the meaning changes dramatically based on the -ing vs. -ed endings:

interesting / interested

worrying / worried

confusing / confused

inspiring / inspired

satisfying / satisfied

distracting / distracted

frightening / frightened

surprising / surprised

For more interesting and exciting examples, check out this fun and crystal-clear video (thanks to mmmenglish – FYI, a great ESL resource!)

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