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I was watching a movie last night and It was a musical one. The movie involved a song named "The Dancing Queen".

Now, I know that the word "Dancing" is not an adjective. For instance, we say Dance music rather than Dancing music. I'm writing this to know if the name of the song was just to draw attention or there is some exception that makes it work as an adjective .

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-ing forms can function as adjectives and nouns - here's an example from Practical English Usage:

  • You're smoking too much these days (verb: part of present progressive)
  • There was a smoking cigarette end in the ashtray (adjective describing cigarette end)
  • Smoking is bad for you (noun: subject of sentence)

The verb/adjective forms are called present participles and the noun form is called a gerund, and yes they look exactly the same. The difference is really in how they're being used - what's their role in the sentence?

Dancing queen could be read two ways I think - either describing a queen as dancing (describing what they're doing, as a verb/adjective form), or as another way of phrasing the queen of dancing, where dancing is a noun form and it's another way of saying the queen of dance.

And dance music and dancing music are really the same thing, I'd argue that dancing music used to be what people would call "music for dancing" in the past. Now dance music is used more as the name of a particular style or genre, but dancing music could still be used to describe music intended for formal dances, or things like salsa and tango.

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  • Important to remember that ABBA were Swedish, and that many of their songs contain non-standard English usages. Jan 3 '21 at 19:53
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    This is completely normal English usage though. Smoking gun, smoking jacket etc. Jan 3 '21 at 19:57
  • Where have you ever heard of a 'dancing queen' outside of the ABBA song? Jan 3 '21 at 20:06
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    Why does that matter? We're talking about grammar here. If someone said twerking coconut crab you'd still understand what it meant even if you'd never seen those words combined before Jan 3 '21 at 20:10
  • I daresay that if someone at a railway station said 'I want to buy a travelling ticket' we'd know what they meant, but we would still note that is non-standard, even if we didn't tell them. Jan 3 '21 at 20:30

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