To native speakers, normally do you use adverbs to modify these v-ing worlds especially when they are the objects of the verbs?


I regret swimming hurriedly


I regret hurried swimming.

Right? And what about these two sentences:

I regret stamp-collecting


I regret collecting stamps

Besides, when using these words, it still retains the verbal characteristics right? Like:

The house needs a careful cleaning.

has the same meaning with

The house needs carefully cleaning.


The house needs to be cleaned carefully.

(SOMETHING like passive voice)

  • You might benefit from reading about The "Very" Test. Jul 31, 2016 at 22:11
  • Except for stamp-collecting and a careful cleaning, all ing words in your sentences are verb. Aug 1, 2016 at 0:48
  • This might be helpful ell.stackexchange.com/a/94887/3463 Aug 1, 2016 at 1:02
  • It English, it is most natural to place the adverb after the gerund. Thus you would say The house needs cleaning carefully. Aug 1, 2016 at 2:40
  • Thanks very much sir. A native speaker have told me like this... And it is limited to use these gerunds as nouns. Am I right? Besides, we can say Swimming carelessly may kill you. But can we say Horse-riding carelessly may kill you. Is that right? Thanks very much!
    – moyeea
    Aug 1, 2016 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


There are minor differences between each of your sentences, in the pairs they're in.

"I regret swimming hurriedly" can mean either that the speaker wishes they had instead swam slower, because due to [the presence of] their regret, they may have missed something and could have not missed it had they swam in a different way/manner, or it could mean they 'hurriedly regret' their swimming, which is unlikely.

"I regret hurried swimming" doesn't mean much of anything since here, 'hurried swimming' functions a bit like a noun, and in order to regret, you have to have done something regret-worthy. You can't regret an entire noun, not one of this type.

"I regret stamp-collecting" means that you regret the act of stamp collecting, which is an activity (thus making it a verb/noun - it only functions like a noun like 'hurried swimming' above if there's more context, such a specified time period during which you did the 'stamp-collecting.').

"I regret collecting stamps" means you regret the act of collecting stamps. Notice the difference here from the sentence above: you regret collecting, not collecting stamps specifically. Perhaps if you did not collect the stamps, but rather threw them up in the air, you would not feel regret. Make sense?

"The house needs a careful cleaning" is usually used when another context is provided, such as a reason why the house might need to be the recipient of that action. Perhaps Tommy got dirt all over the downstairs floor, and it now needs to be cleaned out with a precision instrument to make sure nothing is missed. That's when you'd need "a careful cleaning." (Note that careful is the adjective that modifies cleaning - not all cleanings are necessarily careful. They could be decent, or nice, etc.)

"The house needs carefully cleaning" means that the house needs to be 'carefully cleaned,' which comes from the definition of 'carefully' meaning: "exercising or taking care" ['things that are done to keep something in good condition' or 'feel affection or liking']. In this case, you might want to switch the order of cleaning and carefully in the sentence so it looks like: "The house needs cleaning carefully." The meaning might be a bit lost, but at least it's in the right subject order. Now it means: "The house needs cleaning which is full of care."

"The house needs to be cleaned carefully" implies that you really want it done in a specific manner, as in you would like it cleaned, but not just in any fashion - you would like it cleaned, and you would like it cleaned carefully. In this sense, the word 'carefully' means 'serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk.'

  • Thanks so much for your kind help! But compared to the "to do something" structure. The house needs cleaning(It still means that the house needs to be cleaned, but if I say The house needs housekeeping, how to define the meaning?) Besides, if we want to get the meaning of the noun gerund, we need to regard them as nouns? It is like try reading something(you put great efforts to do this) try to read something(just have a try) But what about try the reading of this book? Thanks a million!
    – moyeea
    Aug 25, 2016 at 22:52

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