I found my watch _____.

1) missing 2) to miss 3) missed 4) disappearing 5) disappeared

Which one should be the right answer? The answer sheet says that the correct answer is "missing," but why not "disappearing"?

Then why and why not?

Is this question related to the differences between past participles and adjectives?

Does the sentence "I found my watch missing." sound right to native speakers?

One more...

a) The man looked killed. (X)

b) We found the man killed (O)

Sentence a) sounds a little bit awkward, but when the proper context is given, can it be a possible and meaningful sentence? What the heck is "adjectival past participle"?

Thanks in advance!

Jay from ROK
Hello Jay

'Missing' is a genuine adjective meaning 'being out of the sight' (a state), whereas 'disappearing' is an present participle meaning 'going to be out of the sight' (an action or a process). When you use 'found', the construct is usually 'someone found something in a state' or 'someone found something'. So in the case of the problem in hand, you have to either 'I found my watch missing' or 'I found (that) my watch had disappeared'. Please note, however, it is OK to say 'The astronomer found the star gradually disappearing'.

As for 'killed', 'We found him killed' is OK. It means 'We found him in a state of having been killed'. Here the past participle 'killed' is used in a passive notion. 'He looked killed' is wrong. In the construct of 'someone looks X', X must be either a genuine adjective or a noun. But 'killed' isn't a genuine adjective. It is merely the past participle of 'kill'.
Hello Dcomest

I don't find the answers on your answer sheet idiomatic.

For the first, you could say:

1a. I found my watch had disappeared.

1b. I found my watch was missing.

But 'I found my watch missing' isn't idiomatic.

For the second, both options sound very peculiar.

You would say:

2a. We found that the man had been killed.

2b. We found the man lying dead.

2c. We found the man dead at the bottom of the stairs.

2d. The man looked dead.

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Hello MrP

I googled "I found my watch missing" and actually it hits only some 20 pages. Most of them are Chinese sites for English learners. But one page I hit is a site named [url=http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/html_units/1780s/t17800223-30.html]The Proceeding of Old Bailey, London, 1674-1838 [/url], which collects documents of the 10000 criminal trials held in London. The below is a paragraph contained in one of the articles there.

James Walker sworn
I had been at a friend's to spend the evening. In my return home I met the prisoner at the bar in Windmill-street; I went home with her to her lodging. I wound up my watch in her apartment. When I got up in the morning, I went to put on my clothes; I put my hand in my pocket and missed it.
What you laid there all night? - I did. When I found my watch missing, I charged her with stealing it. She denied it very strongly. I went to a friend who came up with me to the prisoner's lodging again. She was going out at that time. We met her and desired her to go back to her own lodging, which she did. I offered her five shillings if she would return my watch; she denied having it. We then took her to Bow-street, before Sir John Fielding . Mr. Halliburton was there; he searched her, and found the watch in her pocket. I saw him take it out of her pocket.

This article was recorded in 1780. So it is quite possible 'found something missing' is now unidiomatic. But should we deem the phrase as ungrammatical?
Hello Paco

I think I'm going to have to retract! A google on "I found my * missing" brings up quite a few examples.

I shouldn't have been so dogmatic...

(Oops! Sorry. No offence to your avatar. I meant 'unequivocal'.)


Thank you for the reply. I too have noticed 'found X missing' is a rare usage, though somehow "I found my wallet missing" hits 25 pages. The original question seems to have been contained in the entrance exam for some prestigeous college in China. It is likely, in China, college people often use unidiomatic collocations in making exam questions. It is also a problem in Japan.

I rather welcome your being dogmatic in posting, as I too am born DOG.

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for your thoughtful answers to my question. I appreciate your insight.