Confusable Words #5 -ing or not?
English does not always appear to be consistent, and that, of course, causes confusion.
We usually add -ing to make a verb into a noun, but because many verbs are also nouns, without any change.
For example, we say ‘ski wear’, not ‘skiing wear’, but we say ‘frying pan’, not ‘fry pan’. ‘ski’ can be a noun, but ‘fry’ cannot.
In the following examples, which is correct?
1. Drive licence or driving licence?
2. Swim school or swimming school?
3. Swim lesson or swimming lesson?
4. Cycle lane or cycling lane?
5. Tow truck or towing truck?
6. View gallery or viewing gallery?
7. Colour book or colouring book?
8. File cabinet or filing cabinet?
9. Post box or posting box?
10. Call centre or calling centre?
11. Smoke room or smoking room?
12. Park lot or parking lot?
13.Wash machine or washing machine?
14. Dance instructor or dancing instructor?
15. Listen test or listening test?
16. Dine room or dining room?
17. Show room or showing room?
1. Driving licence (and not ‘car licence’, by the way)
2. Swim school is far more common, but ‘swimming school’ would be fine. A Google search for ‘swim school‘ gets 2,310,000 results, and ‘swimming school‘ gets 464,000
3. Swimming lesson most commonly, but either is ok.
4. Either is ok, but ‘cycle lane’, and similar expressions such as ‘cycle path’, is much more common. A Google search for ‘cycle lane‘ gets 391,000 results, but ‘cycling lane’ gets only 37,000.
5. Tow truck
6. Viewing gallery
7. Colouring book
8. Filing cabinet
9. Post box (it is not just ‘post’, by the way)
10. Call centre
11. Smoking room
12. Parking lot – but British say ‘car park’
13. Washing machine
14. Dance instructor is much more common
15. Listening test
16. Dining room
17. Show room
A Google search gives a good example that users of English can use whatever pattern they want, and so the Internet is full of all variations even though there is a general agreement as to what is correct. The ‘dining room’ example is clearly preferred (with 230,000,000 results) compared to ‘dine room’, but there are still 128,000 results for that. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘dine room’!