They mean the same to me.
I think I know the difference in meaning between the two sentences below:
1. I heard someone knock on the door.
2. I heard someone knocking on the door.
I'd like to check if I understand them correctly.
Please let me use the symbol "・・・" to explain my interpretation of them. (Each dot stands for a knocking sound.)
In #1, I heard someone do this: "・・・" or probably "・・・ ・・・"
In #2, I heard someone doing this: "・・・ ・・・ ・・・ ・・・" or probably more.
My interpretation of #2 is that the -ing form there suggests a repeated action. It describes the situation more vividly - I can feel some kind of emergency situation going on.
Am I on the right track?
Last edited by tzfujimino; 22-Jun-2015 at 18:27.
They mean the same to me.
May I ask another question?
1. I heard someone knock on the door. He/She kept doing that for two hours. It was annoying.
2. I heard someone knocking on the door. He/She kept doing that for two hours. It was annoying.
Are these sentences above natural?
No. 2 is better, more consistent with the use of the past continuous tense.
I am not a teacher.
Then how about:
1. I saw him eat a frog.
2. I saw him eating a frog.
Do they mean exactly the same?
I'm sorry to be so persistent.
Actually I'm trying to come up with a pair of example sentences that I can use in class. I'd like to teach my students the difference in meaning between the -ing form and the bare infinitive in this construction.
hear, see etc + object + verb form
There is often a difference of meaning. After these verbs, an infinitive suggest that we hear or see the whole of an action event: an -ing form suggests we hear or see something in progress, going on. Compare:
I saw her cross the road. (=I saw her cross it from one side to the other.)
I saw her crossing the road. (=I saw her in the middle, on her way across.)
Michael Swan (Practical English Usage)
Thank you, Winwin.
Well, that's the only pair that I know.
(I've used them in class, in fact.)
I really appreciate your help.
Thank you again.
Always remember that everything has a context. Nothing is without a context except for these made-up sentences we use sometimes.
They obviously mean different things to different native speakers, or possibly in different contexts. Most likely the specific verb contributes to any difference.
"I saw him destroy the evidence" means, to me, that the evidence is destroyed.
"I saw him destroying the evidence" does not mean, to me, that all the evidence is destroyed. In fact, one could phrase it this way to specifically mean that you are not asserting that the evidence has been destroyed.
The same applies to eating a frog, or better, say, a horse. Can you eat a horse and still have a horse remaining? I think the answer is less clear if you had only been eating the horse, rather than if you had eaten it.
Does "I saw him destroying the evidence" even make sense if the evidence is not completely destroyed? That depends on the meaning you are giving to "destroy" - or 'eat', etc.
Whether it's 'correct' or not, that's how I use it (I think).