Bored or Boring: What’s the Difference?

Shana Goodwin, July 12, 2022

Two fairly common English adjective suffixes are -ing (interesting, alarming, tiring) and -ed (surprised, worried, amazed). Sometimes, the same root word can make two different adjectives: one ending in -ing and one in -ed. So how do you know whether to say “bored” or or “boring,” or “amazing” or “amazed”?

Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple explanation: -ed adjectives usually describe emotions, or the way someone or something is feeling. And -ing adjectives usually describe the thing that is causing that emotion or feeling.

For example, if you are sitting in English class and the teacher is telling you an exciting story about when a bear came into her campsite on a family camping trip, the story will probably be interesting. And you, the eager listener, will most likely be interested by the story and excited to know how it ends.

The teacher might tell you how terrifying the bear looked and sounded as it came growling out of the trees toward their camp, and how terrified her children were as they gathered around each other in their tent, hoping the bear wouldn’t come too close. As you listen, you might be worried for their safety in this extremely frightening situation, but you’ll be delighted to know that everything turned out well in the end.

Finally, you might be surprised when the teacher finishes the story and moves on to something more boring: grammar practice!

Below is a list of common adjective pairs ending in -ing and -ed:

  • Alarmed/alarming
  • Amazed/amazing
  • Annoyed/annoying
  • Astonished/astonishing
  • Bewildered/bewildering
  • Bored/boring
  • Charmed/charming
  • Confounded/confounding
  • Crippled/crippling
  • Depressed/depressing
  • Distressed/distressing
  • Entertained/entertaining
  • Excited/exciting
  • Exhausted/exhausting
  • Fascinated/fascinating
  • Frightened/frightening
  • Interested/interesting
  • Intrigued/intriguing
  • Pleased/pleasing
  • Shocked/shocking
  • Startled/startling
  • Surprised/surprising
  • Terrified/terrifying
  • Tired/tiring
  • Troubled/troubling
  • Worried/worrying

Photograph by Kalen Kemp.