I am a bit confused about the use of the verb "do".

I could understand that in a passage like

I like playing soccer; I have been doing it for ten years.

"Doing it" refers to "playing soccer" here.

But in the case of a sentence like the one in the title:

I like snowboarding; I have been doing it for 10 years.

what does "doing it" refer to?

Does it mean "doing snowboarding", which, to my ear, sounds awkward, or simply, is the second sentence incorrect?

Thank you in advance.

2 Answers 2


In both of your cases "doing it" refers to doing the verb introduced earlier in your sentence. Your understanding is correct. You have, however, blurred the verbs by comparing a gerund, "playing", and its object "soccer", to a pure gerund, "snowboarding". Since snowboard can be a verb (i.e. We are going to snowboard this weekend), adding -ing provides a valid gerund. Soccer, however, is never a verb (you cannot soccer this weekend), therefore you can never be soccering. You are instead "playing" and what you're playing is soccer.

The comparison is easier to understand if you just limit your analysis to the gerunds.

I like playing; I've been doing it for years. What have you been doing for years? I have been playing.

I like snowboarding; I've been doing it for years. What have you been doing for years? I have been snowboarding.

In neither case are you "doing snowboarding" or "doing playing". Instead, what you're doing is "snowboarding" and "playing".

  • 1
    Thank you, Elliek. So DOING in the sentence in the title refers to "snowboarding," but then what does IT refer to? Am I to understand DOING IT refer to "snowboarding"?
    – George
    Sep 30, 2016 at 22:00

For both the sentences doing can be efficiently replaced with the words , 'playing ' and 'practicing' respectively. But they need to be rephrased as follows:

  1. I like soccer; I have been playing it for 10 years.

  2. I like snowboarding; I have been practicing it for 10 years.

Google defines practicing as " carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly." It fits the context appropriately as for as the second sentence is concerned.

  • So, it's not correct to say " I like snowboarding; I have been doing it for 10 years."?
    – George
    Sep 30, 2016 at 5:37
  • It cannot be declared as wrong outright. But snowboarding is not a job. A job/work can be done. But snowboarding needs to be practised. I meant in that sense
    – Vanpram P
    Sep 30, 2016 at 5:46
  • 1
    It's completely correct to say, "I like snowboarding; I have been doing it for ten years." Whether or not something is a job, has nothing to do with whether it can be "done". When you're snowboarding you are "doing" it. All sensible answers to the question, "What are you doing?" represent things that can be done. Playing. Fishing. Laughing hysterically. etc.etc. All of those things are specific details about what you're doing. Is Bob doing something? Yes! What is Bob doing? He is playing. Playing already implies doing, there is no reason say, "Doing playing."
    – EllieK
    Sep 30, 2016 at 20:43
  • By the way, practicing, is just another thing that can be done. What are you doing? I'm practicing. "I like practicing; I've been doing it for ten years."
    – EllieK
    Sep 30, 2016 at 20:48

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