LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||23/OUT/2005 5:15 PM|
|Assunto:||Watch Verbo no infinitivo?|
I must admit that Johannes is right when he says that there is no point in trying to find out a precise grammatical explanation in some cases. If you have read and heard a construction so many times that you are already able to produce a similar example naturally, why would you want to memorize the grammar behind it? You would have learned it by language acquisition, which is by far a better technique than language learning. Nevertheless, I also have trouble accepting that a sentence has no logical explanation. I had a hard time finding something that explained your sentence, but I guess I finally found something meaningful. Here it goes:
The construction you mentioned is only admitted by a special category of English verbs called sense verbs (which are classified as linking verbs). The most common sense verbs are: feel, hear, look, notice, observe, see, smell, taste and watch. When these verbs refer to the object of the sentence, they can be followed by either a gerund verb or an infinitive verb. Usually, the use of gerund implies that the action is continuous, whether the use of infinitive implies that the action happened only once. Nevertheless, the infinitive verb may also indicate a continuous action if the one-time action makes no sentence in the case. Besides that, it is safer to use a gerund verb in most cases, since the infinitive may sound awkward sometimes.
She is watching her life go by.
- subject: she
- sense verb: (is) watching
- object: her life
- infinitive verb (continuous meaning): go (by)
I listened to the rain falling all night.
- subject: I
- sense verb: listened
- object: the rain
- gerund verb (continuous meaning): falling
She saw them jump on the bed.
- subject: she
- sense verb: saw
- object: them
- infinitive verb (one-time meaning): jump
Tom heard the victim shout for help.
- subject: Tom
- sense verb: heard
- object: the victim
- infinitive verb (one-time meaning): shout
We could smell pie bake in the kitchen.
- subject: we
- sense verb: (could) smell
- object: pie
- infinitive verb (continuous meaning): bake
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