On a recent reality show a mother and a nanny help a young person with her homework.
The child reads the sentence that says something like this: “We went sightseeing.”
The nanny asks, “What is the verb in that sentence?”
The child enthusiastically blurts, “Sightseeing.”
“No,” the nanny says, “that’s not the verb.”
The child says, “Yes it is. Verbs are action, and sightseeing is action.”
The mother jumps in with, “She’s right. Sightseeing is a verb.”
My mouth hung open. Hello? Sightseeing is no longer a verb, once you add the -ing. Sightsee is a verb, but sightseeing is either a noun or an adjective, depending on how it is used. In the case of the sentence in question, “We went sightseeing,” sightseeing is a noun. Went is the verb.
Let’s try to make sightseeing a verb. Hmm. How about these examples: I sightseeing in Paris this year. He sightseeing downtown. Yeah, right, sightseeing is a verb. See how well it works?
Give me a break! What bothers me most is that the nanny knew the right answer, but the mother would not listen to her. Dumbness perpetuates itself once again. No wonder students have so much trouble with creative writing or even writing a simple report.