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    #1

    John was seen to break into the house.

    Dear all,


    Do you say "John was seen to break into a house" to mean "John was seen breaking into a house"?


    Thank you!


    OP

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: John was seen to break into the house.

    You can say both but I would use the second. For me "to be seen to be doing something" can have connotations of someone putting on an act or a pretence, to make it look as if they are doing something when they're not. It definitely suggests perception, not fact.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 559
    #3

    Re: John was seen to break into the house.

    Dear all,

    emsr2d2, thanks for your reply. Now I understand why "see to infinitive" doesn't sound really good.

    I'd like to ask a little more about this.

    I found the following explanation regarding the passive use of "see"in my Cobuild dictionary.

    You can use a passive form of see, followed by either a 'to' infinitive or an "-ing" form.
    You use a 'to' infinitive after a passive form when you are talking about a complete event or action.

    EX One pilot was seen to bail out.

    I think this explanation is a little bit misleading because it doesn't refer to the point that emsr2d2 referred to in his reply, and therefore the sentence doesn't sound natural.

    Do you agree? Or am I missing the point?

    Thank you!

    OP

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