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Kids! You're (disgusted/disgusting)! Don't talk with your mouths full!

I would like to know why the answer is disgusting?

  • Have you looked up those words in a dictionary? Try this one: ldoceonline.com – user3395 Mar 17 '19 at 13:47
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Present participles (V-ing) are active and are used to express that the person (in this case) in question causes a certain feeling, such as disgust:

You are disgusting = You cause disgust

Instead, past participles (V-ed) are passive and are used to express that the person in question experiences a certain feeling:

You are disgusted = You experience disgust

Similar pairs are:

  • boring/bored

You are boring (you cause boredom) / You are bored (you experience boredom)

  • interesting/interested

You are interesting (you arouse interest) / You are interested (you show interest)

  • amusing/amused

You are amusing (you cause amusement) / You are amused (you experience amusement)

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The question you have to answer is WHO is being disgusted and by whom.

That's to say, who is behaving in a disgusting manner and who is being upset by that behaviour.

If the kids are disgusting, it is the kids who are behaving in an upsetting manner - and it is this behaviour that leaves (presumably) their parents feeling disgusted.

If the kids are disgusted themselves, it is the kids who are upset and not their parents.

So, if you say:

I am disgusted

you are saying that you yourself are upset by something or somebody.

If you say:

I am disgusting

you are saying that it is your behaviour/habits (or similar) that upset other people.

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It can be helpful, when there are adjectives that are based on forms of verbs, to think about the verb sense. If someone "has been disgusted"1, something has affected how they feel. If they "are disgusting", they are affecting how other people feel. Consider:

I'm sorry that I disgust you.

I'm sorry that you're disgusted by me.

The thing doing the disgusting, the subject, is the thing that prompts the disgusted reaction. The first example has the verb to disgust in the active voice, the second in the passive.

Thus, anyone who is disgusting is the one doing something that causes people to feel disgusted. The person saying the example is disgusted by the kids speaking with their mouths full; the kids are disgusting the speaker, so the kids are disgusting


1: The adjective use of disgusted has more or less completely displaced its use as a real past participle, but this is about thinking how it could be used as a verb. The verb to disgust isn't really used so much, but it is what gives us the adjectives disgusted and disgusting.

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We add the -ing ending to a verb to talk about the verb's action, and the -ed ending to talk about its effect. If something is disgusting, it makes people feel disgusted. If something is tiring, it makes people feel tired.

Adjectives ending -ing and -ed

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