I have read a manual. One of its sentences is "These are the basic symbols used generally."

I don't really understand the difference between

These are the basic symbols used generally.


These are the basic symbols using generally.

Can you provide some guidance on when I should use the –ing form instead of the -ed form?

  • The second sentence is not Standard English, and not acceptable.
    – Abe
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 8:29

2 Answers 2


Only the first is possible here.

-ed is used for the verbs in the passive voice. Also look for "past participle."

-ing forms are used for the verbs in the continuous aspect. Also look for "ing-form," "present participle," "gerund."

Any grammar worth its salt:-) will show you the difference. Try this this grammar forum and this grammar site.


Both -ed and -ing words can be used as modifiers in addition to other parts of speech (typically they are or are involved in verbs).

As modifiers, the -ing form is appropriate if you want describe a state that could be described by saying "in the process of now" or "currently":

The boiling water is hot. (The water is in the process of boiling now, the water is currently boiling).

The working men went to lunch. (The men are currently working.)

The -ed form is appropriate if something has reached a destination state and is not undergoing any change, or has been transformed by an action.

The boiled eggs tasted good. (The eggs aren't being boiled now.)

The destroyed building was reduced to rubble. (The building isn't being destroyed any more.)

It does not mean the action of the word has been completed by the subject of the sentence. You need to use a verb or actual modifier for that.

The worked men came home. (Someone hearing this would immediately ask "men worked by who?")

The men stopped working and came home.

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