I have two questions:

1. To express the same meaning as

"I don't like girls who smoke."

can I say

"I don't like girls smoking."?

It sounds kind of odd to me but I think it is not wrong.

2. To express the same meaning as

"She is a girl who smokes."

can I say

"She is a girl smoking."?

This one sounds somewhat odd to me too.

UPDATE: In some kinds of sentences, instead of pronouns like "who", "which" and "that", we can use the continuous form. So what I am asking is: Instead of using the version with "who", can I just use the continuous form in those sentences I gave.

  • An example of what I mean:
    You can say "I love her face smiling at me every morning" instead of "I love her face that (which) smiles at me every morning"

  • Another example:
    Let's say a friend of yours is at your apartment, and you are talking about a bar with him. In that context, you can say "I like the girl singing at that bar." for meaning "I like the girl who sings at that bar." as far as I know.

  • 1
    Please be clear: is it the girls you dislike or their smoking? Perhaps "I don't like it when girls smoke". Secondly "the girl smokes", "the girl is smoking", "she is a smoker". "I don't like girls who smoke." means you don't like those girls at all. "I don't like girls smoking." either means you don't like girls when they smoke, or you don't approve of their habit. Jul 7, 2018 at 19:26
  • 1
    A right sentence is unnatural. We'd usually say a correct sentence. When we use right before a noun (in the 'correct' meaning), it's usually definite; we're usually picking out the one correct choice or answer in a given context, so we say things like the right answer (not a right answer).
    – user230
    Jul 7, 2018 at 19:40
  • @snailboat I thought we could use "right" instead of "correct". Maybe it is not wrong, but unnatural. Jul 7, 2018 at 19:42
  • @WeatherVane When you say "There is a woman taking care of his children when he is not at home", it means "...a woman who takes care of..." This is why I am asking this question. Jul 7, 2018 at 19:47
  • 2
    I don't understand the relevance of that comment. If it relevant, please edit the question to make it more clear what you are asking. I pointed out an ambiguity in your question, sorry you didn't take it. Jul 7, 2018 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


1) "I don't like girls smoking." seems like "I don't like it when girls smoke." which is slightly different.

Instead, you could say "I don't like smokers", if it's enough in the context.

2) First of all, when talking about "a girl" you want to use "she" as the pronoun, instead of "he".

Again, "She is a smoker." works just fine, it could also be "She smokes."

Verbs in the continous form ("-ing") are usually used to describe a particular moment, so "she is smoking" = right now vs. "she smokes" = she is a smoker

(edit: unless you mean smoking as an adjective in which case it should go in front of the noun "she is a smoking girl" but then it'd just mean "hot"https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=smokin)

  • Also. You are wrong by the way. You can use verbs in the continuous form in the sentences like "There is a guy looking at me all the time in the class". The meaning is "There is a guy who looks at me all the time in the class" here. Jul 7, 2018 at 19:15
  • Oh, yes, that's why I wrote "usually", the continous form indicates annoyment, but yeah, you're right. I meant in the context of your question :) Jul 7, 2018 at 19:19
  • I am sorry but it doesn't have anything to do with being annoyed as far as I know. It is just an alternative to "who". For example you can say "The music playing at that bar is so nice" for meaning "The music that plays at that bar is so nice". It doesn't have anything to do with being annoyed. Jul 7, 2018 at 19:22
  • Oh, okay, yes, then "playing" becomes an adjective (I think :P), what I mean is "Use present continuous to talk about habits that are annoying and bother us. ("always" "constantly," "continuously," and "continually")." - learn-english-have-fun.com/… Jul 7, 2018 at 19:31
  • 1
    @FireandIce - There is a big difference between the example in your first comment and the example in Pantera's answer. I think most native speakers would interpret "There is a guy looking at me in class" to mean that there is someone looking at that person right now. You clarified by adding "all the time" – "There is a guy looking at me all the time in the class" – which suggests ongoing behavior. Similarly, I would think "She is a girl smoking," means she is smoking right now, not someone who smokes as a habit, as "She is a girl who smokes" (or "She is a smoker") would mean.
    – J.R.
    Jul 7, 2018 at 20:27
  1. She is smoking
    We can drop the redundant “a girl” from the original phrase.

Without greater context this could mean:

(i) She is smoking an illegal substance at this moment.
(ii) She is literally burning at this moment = smoke is being emitted from her
(iii) She is smoking hot (slang) = she is sexually attractive

Therefore, the following sentence is grammatically correct, but it sounds incomplete.

I don't like girls smoking

The verb "smoke" is both intransitive and transitive

2. (no object) Inhale and exhale the smoke of tobacco or a drug.

  • ‘Janine was sitting at the kitchen table smoking’
  • (with object) ‘he smoked forty cigarettes a day’

By adding an object or a prepositional phrase, the OP's sentence will sound more idiomatic and the risk of being misunderstood will be reduced.

I don't like girls smoking cigarettes/weed/cigars (etc.)
I don't like girls smoking in bars

In the following, the speaker is talking about a specific girl or group of people by using the present continuous tense

I like the girl [who is] singing at that bar (at this moment)
I like the girls [who are] singing at that bar (at this moment)

To express a general preference or truth, it's best to use the simple present, ergo

I like a girl who sings
I like girls who sing


I like female/girl singers

Likewise, to express the idea of generally disliking any girl who smokes, the noun should be plural and the tense should be the present simple

I don't like girls who smoke
I don't like [female] smokers

  • Would be nice to know what I got wrong. Is it just a bad answer? Let me know, thanks.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 8, 2018 at 15:00
  • Can I say "A girl smoking cigarettes is a turnoff" for meaning "A girl who smokes cigarettes is a turnoff"? I think so. Jul 9, 2018 at 8:45
  • @FireandIce Yeah that sounds ok, but you also added the object (cigarettes) It's more natural to say "Girls who smoke are a real turnoff" OR "Women smokers turn me off"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 9, 2018 at 8:53
  • Thank you. Can I say "She is a girl smoking cigarettes" and "She is a girl smoking in her house" for meaning "She is a girl who smokes cigarettes" and "She is a girl who smokes in her house"? Jul 9, 2018 at 9:02
  • Why do you need to say that "she" is a girl? It's not wrong but it seems a bit unnecessary. Just say "That's a girl smoking in her home" OR "She is someone who likes smoking/smokes". By the way, it's not "for meaning" but "to mean". use the infinite to talk about the purpose or scope of something.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 9, 2018 at 9:06

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