In this sentence:

They're going gorilla watching.

what's the function of the verb watching?

Is it a verb? a noun? ... maybe gorilla watching means "mirador de gorilas", in spanish?

In English, I have not seen a verb at the end of a sentece.


They are going gorilla watching.

The key verb here is are, it forms the Present Progressive tense together with the present participle going.

The word watching it not really a full-fledged verb but a gerund: it functions as a noun. It is used here to describe the activity of "watching gorillas".

We use the go + ..ing structure to describe activities in which people are free to move about and which have no fixed beginning or end:

  • "Let's go skating today!" (let us go to the skating rink and skate some time there: the proposed activity is skating)
  • "No, let's go watching gorillas today!" (let us go to the zoo and watch the gorillas there for some time: the proposed activity is watching)
  • "Oh, I didn't know you liked gorilla watching!" (I didn't know you liked this activity: gorilla watching)

The word gorilla is used as an adjective to describe the noun word watching.

I like trainspotting. (I like to spot trains)
I like birdwatching! (I like to watch birds)
I like gorilla watching. (I like to watch gorillas)

When a noun like "gorilla" is used in the adjective sense, it is called "noun adjunct".

Gorilla watching is not a very popular pastime: if more people start spending their free time watching gorillas, the two words might fuse into "gorillawatching", like "birdwatching".

Reference: Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, Unit 228 (on "go + ..ing"), Units 293-300 (on participles and gerunds).


"They are going gorilla watching". The function of "watching" in the sentence is that it has been used as a gerund (-ing form of the verb that is used as a noun).

We use a gerund after the verb "go" for some specific activities, especially recreational, that are done out of doors, for example, go shopping, fishing, sightseeing, fishing, jogging, skiing, gorilla watching, etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.