Hello, 

I’d like to know why these nouns use the -ing form instead of the simple form. I’d appreciate any help.

ej.

“A dress fitting” instead of “a dress fit.”

“A drinking problem” instead of a “drink problem”.

But, this example use the simple form:

“Dance floor” instead of “dancing floor”.

Thanks in advance.

Original Post

Hello, P.J., and welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

In:

“A dress fitting” instead of “a dress fit.”

"fit" does not work as a noun to mean what "fitting" denotes (the act of trying clothes on to check whether they fit).

In:

“A drinking problem” instead of a “drink problem”.

"drinking" refers to the action of drinking, while "drink" refers to one particular drink or act of drinking. Just as we speak about "eating disorders" (NOT "food/meal disorders"), we speak about "drinking problem."

This:

“Dance floor” instead of “dancing floor”.

is perhaps the hardest to explain and, therefore, the most idiomatic. I think it has to do with the economy of the language. If "dance" can mean not only a single act but the activity of dancing, why use "dancing" if "dance" is shorter?

 

 

 

PJ, please allow me to join Gustavo in welcoming you to our forum.

Gustavo, these are excellent answers.  I thought I could come up with a better explanation for "dance floor", but everything I came up with had either an exception or some other problem.  So unless David can come up with something better, I'll just say that in English, we speak of a "dance floor" and a "playing field", and it's just one of those things we have to know.

DocV

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