Saturday, February 04, 2017

I saw her cry Versus I saw her crying

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

A sentence that came up in class the other day was "No one saw her crying".

One of the students was confused.  He asked a question: was "crying" a noun or a verb?

He had assumed that since "her" was a possessive adjective, it had to be followed by a noun form.
I was just about to explain that "crying" was a gerund, when I looked at the sentence again and realized I was wrong.
"her" wasn't a possessive pronoun here, it was an object pronoun.

I gave several example sentences to illustrate the point: "I saw him eat a pizza."  "I saw her kick a ball."
But all of my examples used the infinitive form of the verb, which further confused the students.

Then, asked the students, what should we say?  Is it "I saw her cry" or "I saw her crying".

They actually both sounded okay to me, and I couldn't think of what the rule was.

And after thinking about it some more, I'm pretty sure this is just another variation of a grammar question I've already asked on this blog: the difference between "hear us sing" and "hear us singing"

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