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Hello everybody,

Please I am so confused over these four sentences:

1. I saw him do it yesterday
2. I saw him doing it yesterday
3. I see him do it everyday
4. I see him doing it everyday

Are those sentences above grammatically correct, and what are the differences among them? Please,I need ypur explanation and correct answer.


Re: Tense

(1) I saw him [do it yesterday].
(2) I saw him [doing it yesterday].
(3) I see him [do it everyday].
(4) I see him [doing it everyday].

Yes, they are all grammatically fine. The differences are in tense and meaning.

Tense: the main clause tense in (1) and (2) is simple past "saw", while in (3) and (4) it's simple present "see".

The verbs in the bracketed subordinate clauses are untensed, meaning that the clauses are non-finite: a bare infinitival in (1) and (3) and a gerund-participial in (2) and (4).

Meaning: (1) and (3) mean that you saw the whole event of his doing it, while (2) and (4) that you saw just a segment of it. Note also that although (2) and (4) have a progressive meaning, they are not in the progressive aspect since there is no possibility of inserting the progressive auxiliary "be" (you can't say *"I saw him be doing it").

Have I explained that clearly enough?


Re: Tense

Wow! Mr Paul the grammarian, I would simply say here that you "really know it, and you are really here for it!"

At first, I was thinking (if I could be given the right answer) over the topic I gave to this question, not that I made a mistake calling it "tense" but knowing that the real topic should be "bare infinitive". I did this just to know if my teacher knows what's teaching us. Your answer gives me more confidence in you and your website even by simply mentioning that word "bare infinitival". This made me know that you really understood the question.

Your site is really the "GRAMMAR MONSTER". And coming across a site like this is really awesome. Thanks for bringing clarity to this.