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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    Hello.
    Could you please tell me if the pattern below is correct?

    1. look at + object + bare infinitive
    1) She looked at the kids play with a dog.
    2) I looked at him repair my car.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    The bare infinitive is OK but neither is natural with "looked at". In both cases, we would use "watched".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    You could also replace the bare infinitive with a gerund, if you want to keep 'look at'.
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    #4

    Re: She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    I would replace the bare infinitive with a present participle to indicate an action in progress because a gerund works as a noun and indicates something.
    Could you please tell me if my understanding is correct?
    Thank you very much for your help.

  5. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alice Chu View Post
    I would replace the bare infinitive with a present participle to indicate an action in progress ...
    Yes. I agree.

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    #6

    Re: She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alice Chu View Post
    I would replace the bare infinitive with a present participle
    You're right, but many grammarians today see no point in distinguishing between gerunds and participles. (This is for your information; it's not a criticism.)
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  7. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    According to two grammar books I have, "look at" can be followed by an NP and then a bare infinitive in American English, but not in British English:

    Look at can be followed by object + -ing form, and in American English also by object + infinitive.

    Look at him eating! Look at him eat! (AmE)

    - Swan, M. (2005). Practical English Usage (3rd Ed.), Section 242.4. Oxford University Press.
    "The verb look at can take an infinitive clause in Am.E., but not in Br.E."

    - Declerck, R. (1991). A Comprehensive Descriptive Grammar of English, p. 489. Kaitakusha.
    Although I am a native speaker of AmE and find the version with the infinitive natural in some contexts, mainly in imperatives (for example, when watching a race, I could hear myself saying, "Look at him go!"), I by no means find it natural in all sentences with "look at." I wouldn't use the bare infinitive in (1) or (2), and can think of very few sentences in which it would work well in past-tense clauses. It's definitely a borderline construction in my book.

    (a) We looked at him go. (maybe)
    (b) ?* We looked at him pick apples. (definitely not)

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    #8

    Re: She looked at the kids play with a dog.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alice Chu View Post
    Could you please tell me if the pattern below is correct?

    1. look at + object + bare infinitive
    1) She looked at the kids play with a dog.
    2) I looked at him repair my car.
    I don't think look at is the right verb in either of these examples, so for me they're both wrong. Perhaps you meant to use watch or see.

    My advice to you is this: Don't use either pattern, except as imperatives, in which case, if you want to suggest that an action is in progress, use the -ing form, not the infinitive form.

    Look at that huge spider crawling up the wall!
    Look at that huge spider crawl up the wall!

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