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    #1

    hear sb. complain or hear sb. complaining

    Dear teachers,
    I want to say something like "I am attending a university and I often hear my classmates complaining about their courses or teachers", but I am not sure of the part of "complaining about...". What is the difference between "hear sb. complain" and "hear sb. complaining" if both are correct expressions? Or is one of the two wrong in this context?
    Thanks a lot.
    Richard

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: hear sb. complain or hear sb. complaining

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Dear teachers,
    I want to say something like "I am attending a university and I often hear my classmates complaining about their courses or teachers", but I am not sure of the part of "complaining about...". What is the difference between "hear sb. complain" and "hear sb. complaining" if both are correct expressions? Or is one of the two wrong in this context?
    Thanks a lot.
    Richard
    In most of these cases where you heard or saw something happen/happening, the meaning is the same. In this case, they're both correct, and mean the same. However, the continuous form sometimes suggests that something is ongoing.
    "I saw him running away" might tend to suggest that you saw him for longer than "I saw him run away" - but not necessarily.
    "I felt something biting me"; "I felt something bite me". There could be a significant difference here. The first sentence suggests that the biting was progressive, not just a quick bite.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: hear sb. complain or hear sb. complaining

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Dear teachers,
    I want to say something like "I am attending a university and I often hear my classmates complaining about their courses or teachers", but I am not sure of the part of "complaining about...". What is the difference between "hear sb. complain" and "hear sb. complaining" if both are correct expressions? Or is one of the two wrong in this context?
    Thanks a lot.
    Richard
    There is no significant difference.

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    #4

    Re: hear sb. complain or hear sb. complaining

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    There is no significant difference.
    Thanks for your reply. Then, if you are in this writing or speaking situation, which is your spontaneous choice as a native speaker?

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: hear sb. complain or hear sb. complaining

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Thanks for your reply. Then, if you are in this writing or speaking situation, which is your spontaneous choice as a native speaker?
    It would depend on context. Certainly if the complaining is continuing, I would use the continuous.

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    #6

    Re: hear sb. complain or hear sb. complaining

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    In most of these cases where you heard or saw something happen/happening, the meaning is the same. In this case, they're both correct, and mean the same. However, the continuous form sometimes suggests that something is ongoing.
    "I saw him running away" might tend to suggest that you saw him for longer than "I saw him run away" - but not necessarily.
    "I felt something biting me"; "I felt something bite me". There could be a significant difference here. The first sentence suggests that the biting was progressive, not just a quick bite.
    Thanks, Raymott.

    I remember that when I was in high school, my English teacher told my class that "see somebody do something" is used to talk about a complete event or action while "see somebody doing something" emphasizes you happen to notice something. I can also get a similar explanation from my Collins COBUILD English Usage on p. 616: You can use an -ing form after saw or could see to indicate that someone was aware of something that was continuing to take place... You can use an infinitive without "to" after saw to indicate that someone was aware of a complete event or action. And four example sentences are given on this page as follows:

    I saw Benjamin standing there patiently.
    They could see the plances coming in over the fields.
    He saw the tears come to her eyes.
    I saw Bogeslavski get to his feet.

    So, if you are in my writing or speaking situation, explained in my OP, which is your spontaneous response, "I often hear my classmates complaining about their courses or teachers" or "I often hear my classmates complain about their courses or teachers"? Thanks.

    Richard

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    #7

    Re: hear sb. complain or hear sb. complaining

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    So, if you are in my writing or speaking situation, explained in my OP, which is your spontaneous response, "I often hear my classmates complaining about their courses or teachers" or "I often hear my classmates complain about their courses or teachers"? Thanks.

    Richard
    As I said, my spontaneous response would be the same for those sentences. My spontaneous mind would not make a differentiation.

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