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  1. #1
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    keannu is offline Key Member
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    Default difference between "I saw him cross the bridge" and "I saw him crossing the bridge"

    Some grammar books explain the difference between the two sentences like this.
    1. I saw him cross the bridge. (I watched the whole action from him going from the entrance to the ending point of the bridge)
    2. I saw him crossing the bridge.(I watched him at some point of moving)

    Is it really what native speakers perceive and think or do they make little difference in meaning?
    A kind help will be highly appreciated.

  2. #2
    DavidA is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: difference between "I saw him cross the bridge" and "I saw him crossing the bridg

    I am not an English teacher.

    But I am a native English speaker. It is true that the first example suggests the complete action was seen, and the second that only part of it was, but to a native English speaker, this detail is extremely pedantic and in general usage they mean virtually the same thing.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: difference between "I saw him cross the bridge" and "I saw him crossing the bridg

    Not a teacher, but native American English speaker for 53 years.

    If I were an observer to some EVENT which involved participants moving through a specific course, I MIGHT say, "I saw him cross the bridge." thus indicating I saw him complete this portion of the entire course.

    I would be much more likely to report that "I saw him as he was crossing the bridge." indicating that I happened to see him at some point while he was crossing the bridge.

    To me there is a difference in meaning between the two. I would most likely use 'crossing' if I saw him at any point along the bridge.

    I would use 'cross' only if I either saw him through the entire trip over the bridge, or if I witnessed the COMPLETION of the trip across the bridge.

    That's my opinion.

  4. #4
    maapaa is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: difference between "I saw him cross the bridge" and "I saw him crossing the bridg

    A teacher - but not native American English speaker.

    For me it's all about the duration of what you are doing.
    If you walk along a river, look around and see somebody entering a bridge, crossing the bridge and leaving it on the other side ... then I would call it "I watched him cross the bridge" (from the start until the end).
    But if you walk along a river, look around and see somebody at any point on the bridge, turn your head away from him and go on your way - then I would call it "I saw him crossing the bridge" (for a moment).

    Not sure if my comment is helpful, right or even wrong.


    Thanks for reading

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