Excited or Exciting? An Easy Fix for Confusing Adjectives with -ing or -ed

Aug 7, 2019 | Confusing Words in English, Grammar

I’m so exciting about…no wait, I’m so excited…wait, which one is it — excited or exciting? If you get frustrated with these confusing adjectives in English, you are not alone!

And we have so many of them! Not only is there excited or exciting, but we also have: 

  • interested or interesting
  • bored or boring
  • relaxed or relaxing

It’s crazy right?

The good news is, today I have an easy trick for you to know when to use which adjective.

And, of course, there’s an opportunity for you to immediately practice these confusing adjectives at the end so you know how to use this trick correctly. 

An easy fix for confusing adjectives.

Lesson by Annemarie

Let’s start with the adjectives that end with  -ing, like boring, interesting, amazing, embarrassing, relaxing, annoying, exciting and confusing.

All of these -ing adjectives describe what something is like.

They describe things, their characteristics, how they are. So, most often we use these with ‘it’.  For example:

  • I don’t want to watch this movie, it is boring!
  • Did you hear what happened yesterday? It is amazing!
  • It was not relaxing at all because the neighbor’s music was annoying!

So, for things, we use -ing.  Easy to remember, isn’t it?

We can also say what people or things are like with these -ing adjectives.

So, the neighbors who play loud music when you are trying to relax, well you might say they are annoying or frustrating.

Again we are talking about what they are like, their characteristics, so we use -ing adjectives. For example:

  • That speaker was so engaging!
  • She can be so convincing! 
  • They are always so entertaining! 
  • My neighbors are terribly annoying.

But how do you feel about your annoying neighbors?  This is when we need our -ed adjectives.

Now when these things happen, like your neighbors playing loud music at 3am on Tuesday, it is annoying, they are annoying, but how do you feel?  This is when we need our -ed adjectives. It is annoying, so you feel annoyed. It is frustrating so you feel frustrated.

We use -ed adjectives to talk about feelings.

This means the -ed adjectives, like annoyed, frustrated, bored, interested, relaxed, amused, pleased or worried, are used to talk about how people or even animals feel. Only people and animals can have feelings. 

For example:

  • I am inspired after that video.
  • My cat seems annoyed at me.

However, things don’t have feelings, so a movie can’t be bored or amused, because it cannot feel. A person can watch a movie and feel bored or interested or relaxed. 

So excited or exciting? Basically, the -ing adjectives cause the -ed feelings.

First something is boring, exciting, amazing, annoying and then you feel bored, excited, amazed or annoyed.

So, remembering this one simple sentence structure can help you always decide which adjective you need:

  • It is boring, so I feel bored.
  • It is exciting, so I feel excited.
  • It is amazing, so she feels amazed.
  • It is annoying, so he feels annoyed.

For example: Going on vacation (it) is relaxing, so I’m (I feel) relaxed.

Now, does it really matter if we mix these confusing adjectives up?

Well, there are definitely situations where mixing them up can cause a lot of confusion.

For example, let’s say there’s a bit of an argument and someone says something mean and nasty to you. You feel hurt and upset and want to express your feelings. What you want to say is ‘I am insulted’ but instead you accidentally say ‘I am insulting’.

Whoops! Rather than saying how you feel, you have described yourself as the kind of person who says mean things!

Excited or exciting? Interested or interesting? Bored or boring? It’s time to practice.

Can you identify the right answers in the sentence below? Share your answers in the comments section.

  1. That hike was exhausting/exhausted.
  2. I am exhausting/exhausted after the awful day I’ve had.
  3. This movie is so depressing/depressed.
  4. I’ve been trying to understand these instructions for hours, I’m so frustrating/frustrated.
  5. I didn’t pass the exam, I’m so disappointing/disappointed about it. 
  6. I can’t believe she wants to swim with sharks, it is so frightening/frightened.
  7. I’m feeling so inspiring/inspired, I’m going to start painting right now!
  8. She thinks English grammar is confusing/confused.
  9. He is so confusing/confused about where we are meeting tomorrow.
  10. Do you think my presentation is boring/bored?


(Psst… ❤️this lesson? I’ve got a full playlist of easy grammar fixes in English here.)

The best way to learn is to jump to action right away.

I’ve got a list here of all the most common ing/ed adjective pairs you will ever need. 

Choose one pair and create a sentence for each word to show the different meanings. I’d love you to share below — you’ll be practicing and helping others learn too. 


  • amazing / amazed
  • amusing / amused
  • annoying / annoyed
  • astounding / astounded
  • boring / bored
  • challenging / challenged
  • concerning / concerned
  • confusing / confused
  • convincing / convinced
  • depressing / depressed
  • disappointing / disappointed
  • discouraging / discouraged
  • disgusting / disgusted
  • distressing / distressed
  • disturbing / disturbed
  • embarrassing / embarrassed
  • engaging / engaged
  • entertaining / entertained
  • exhausting / exhausted
  • fascinating / fascinated
  • frightening / frightened
  • frustrating / frustrated
  • inspiring / inspired
  • insulting / insulted
  • interesting / interested
  • moving / moved
  • overwhelming / overwhelmed
  • pleasing / pleased
  • relaxing / relaxed
  • shocking / shocked
  • stunning / stunned
  • surprising / surprised
  • tempting / tempted
  • terrifying / terrified
  • thrilling / thrilled
  • threatening / threatened
  • tiring / tired
  • worrying / worried

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie

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