How many times can you use ing without it becoming wrong?

The waiting room was empty except for an old man sitting in a corner reading a book.

Is two times the limit?

The waiting room was empty except for an old man sitting in a corner reading a book giving a vibe of indifference.

Is this correct?

How many ings can be stuffed in this sentence using connecting words like and, not, etc? Please help

  • 8
    Who told you there's a limit?
    – gotube
    Jul 19, 2023 at 7:09
  • 1
    Matters of style are largely subjective. Some may have articulated a style guideline expressing a limit (@gotube) but if so that would not be a rule of grammar.
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2023 at 12:17
  • 2
    There's nothing wrong with this, aside from it starting to seem silly at some point to tell the listener too many things. It is correct use and grammar; there's no "limit".
    – BadZen
    Jul 19, 2023 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


There is no limit in grammar. Three participles is not a problem at all. Having very many such phrases would be annoying and poor style.

This is essentially a list, and there is no limit on how many items can be in a list:

Go to the shops and buy apples, bananas, carrots, doughnuts and eggs.

He sat in the corner eating an apple, peeling a banana, waving a carrot, stuffing a doughnut and cracking an egg.

  • 1
    I would say "bad style" or even"poor style" rather than "bad English" because "bad English" could easily be taken to mean "incorrect English" (which is confusing right after you've said that there's no limit in grammar).
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2023 at 12:15
  • 3
    Repetition can also be poetic: "Sitting, sleeping, eating, working, going to school, striving, failing, crying and laughing -- these are all part of life."
    – user8356
    Jul 19, 2023 at 20:00
  • @phoog I would say that I want to see a person do all that at the same time.
    – RonJohn
    Jul 20, 2023 at 0:00
  • 1
    Repetition can also be done for fun, e.g. the nursery rhyme The House That Jack Built
    – Barmar
    Jul 20, 2023 at 3:04

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