Sunday, 25 September 2011

Adjectives with -ed and -ing endings, but how about relaxed and relaxing?

ELT ESL EFL CLIL Grammar Adjectives -ed -ing

Most learners very quickly grasp the concept of the difference between adjectives ending in -ed and those ending in -ing. They would have been told that adjectives ending with -ed describe our feelings and those ending with -ing describe what cause the feelings in the first place.


We were bored out of our minds in today's class.
Today's class was terribly boring!

Suzanne was terribly interested in what Pedro had to say.
Pedro was saying some very interesting stuff.

I was all right until he started explaining about learning theories, then I got totally confused.
I found his explanation of learning theories very confusing.

More often than not, these adjectives describe emotions and feelings. For more examples and activities, click here.

However 'relax' sometimes generates doubts.

Although we can say "I feel very relaxed working in here; it's got an extremely relaxing atmosphere" to mean I'm relaxed working in here because the atmosphere is relaxing, a relaxed atmosphere and a relaxing atmosphere can actually mean two different things.

Relaxed could mean informal, comfortable, cozy, lenient, easygoing, free from tension, calm while
relaxing refers to a feeling of physical or mental rest.

So, a relaxed atmosphere doesn't necessarily mean a relaxing atmosphere. Imagine a scenario where you work in an office where it's generally very relaxed - you can dress how you wish, working hours are flexible, managers' doors are always open, etc, but you may be an odd fish and actually find this way of working contrary to your perception of work, and, as a result, don't find working here very relaxing!

Do you agree? Can you think of other adjectives like this?

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