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  1. #1
    ssxia is offline Newbie
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    Default "see sb doing something" vs "see sb do something"

    I would like to confirm the usage of the following two construction:

    1. I saw him entering the house.

    2. I saw him enter the house.

    If I understand correctly, the first construction means "He was entering the house and I saw him". The second one means "He entered the house and I saw him".

    By the same reasoning, the following sentences have these meanings:

    3.Did Sam see him entering the house? (At the moment when he was entering the house, Sam saw the whole process of entering and I am questioning someone if that was true.)

    4.Did Sam see him enter the house? (He entered the house before. Sam saw him did that, not necessarily the complete process and I am questioning someone if that was true.)

    5.I didnít hear you come in. (You came in and I did not hear you)

    6.I didnít hear you coming in. (You were coming in and I did not hear you)

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "see sb doing something" vs "see sb do something"

    Generally, the gerund is used when we catch part of the process and the bare infinitive we we catch it all. In your examples, it's a very short action, so there's little distinction between the two forms.

  3. #3
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: "see sb doing something" vs "see sb do something"

    Quote Originally Posted by ssxia View Post
    I would like to confirm the usage of the following two construction:

    1. I saw him entering the house.

    2. I saw him enter the house.

    If I understand correctly, the first construction means "He was entering the house and I saw him". The second one means "He entered the house and I saw him".

    By the same reasoning, the following sentences have these meanings:

    3.Did Sam see him entering the house? (At the moment when he was entering the house, Sam saw the whole process of entering and I am questioning someone if that was true.)

    4.Did Sam see him enter the house? (He entered the house before. Sam saw him did that, not necessarily the complete process and I am questioning someone if that was true.)

    5.I didnít hear you come in. (You came in and I did not hear you)

    6.I didnít hear you coming in. (You were coming in and I did not hear you)
    As TDOL said, any difference depends on the length of the event. With longer events, the meanings diverge:

    I saw her playing a tennis match. [part of the process]

    I saw her play a tennis match. [the entire thing]

    I heard him proposing to her. [part of the conversation]

    I heard him propose to her. [the entire conversation]

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