I've just completed an application to a university. Now I'm writing an e-mail to my friend and was wondering whether finishing with the sentence

And now the waiting begins.


And now the wait begins.

is more appropriate with respect to the long time it usually takes for an answer from a university. As I'm not a native speaker I gathered two possible connotations from the ELL questions below.

waiting connotes a duration and something that ends at some point.
wait connotes a point in time and something recurring.

Those are in respect to the verb form, but does this also apply to the noun/gerund? Or is it related to gerund vs infinitive verbs mentioned here ("Verb + to or -ing")?

Personally I would probably choose "the waiting" to emphasize the duration rather than "the wait", which would emphasize the frequency if the above is correct. On the other hand, the second phrase sounds to me more like assuming that everyone knows "the wait" (after submitting something).

Is this correct? Or am I maybe overthinking the issue?

Possibly related:
I wait for Vs I'm waiting for
“while they wait” - why not “while they are waiting”?

  • Same thing, both are nouns. I see no major semantic difference. Not to be confused with verb usage: I wait for x, and I'm waiting for x.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 17:33
  • +1 for providing details in your question and for doing commendable research before posting
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 17:33
  • You should have limited your question: either nouns or verbs, or clearly made the distinction between them.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


These are very similar in meaning, almost identical.

And now the waiting begins.

^ The speaker is here saying that an ongoing action of waiting is starting.

And now the wait begins.

^ The speaker is here saying that a single event that occurs over a time interval - the wait - is starting.

In particular, the choice is just slightly connotative, and almost completely stylistic. There is absolutely no difference in time period signaled; you're overthinking the use with the "duration vs. frequency" in your question. The two sentences are very nearly exactly the same. Perhaps the first can focus the listener more on the person or people doing the waiting, while the second is slightly more "passive" or removed from the actors. Perhaps not.


"Wait" is both a verb and a noun. It may be helpful for you to consider the difference in the verbs to comprehend how they are different as nouns.

Sometimes verbs are used in the continuous form to emphasise that it may take some time. You could specify that a "wait" will be long, or short - but "waiting", because it is continuous, sounds like it will take longer. You may want to also look at this recent question which covered how the continuous form can imply different things.

The same effect is felt when using it as a noun "the wait" sounds like a finite period of time, whereas "the waiting" has the continuous feel, like it going to drag on for an extended period of time.

  • 1
    I strongly disagree that the use of waiting implies that there will be, or possibly will be no end to the wait. Does the use of "crying" in a parallel sentence imply that there will be no end to the crying? (eg. ""She started crying", or even more certainly discrete: "The Crying of Lot 49") Does the use of "viewing" imply that there will be no end to the viewing? ("The viewing of the deceased will begin shortly.")
    – BadZen
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 17:47
  • The question was about the nouns: the wait and the waiting. And only secondarily about the verbs.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 18:10
  • The examples I give in the reply above are exactly grammatically parallel to those in the question. This answer asserted that 'waiting' implied that the wait would not have an end. Let me then add that the presumption that the waiting will come to an end is so strong, that even if you explicitly say it will not, the listener will not believe you are being literal and not hyperbolic: "and now the interminable waiting begins", or "and now the endless waiting begins". No one will think that the waiting is actually endless upon hearing that.
    – BadZen
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 21:48
  • @Lambie Thanks, my intention was to explain the difference between the two as verbs to show the difference as nouns, but that got lost along the way. I've updated my answer to cover that the OP asked specifically about the wait and the waiting.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 20:40

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