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Hello,

I would like to do some exercises in my book but it is about a chapter that I really don’t understand.

Please, could you tell me if I should choose the simple infinitive or the ING form in the following sentences? I would also like to know the reasons behind your choices.

Here is the theory of that chapter:
I saw my friend run down the street.
I saw my friend running down the street.
Certain verbs of perception are followed by either the SIMPLE FORM or the ING form of a verb. There is usually little difference in the meaning between the two forms except that the ING form usually gives the idea of “while.” I saw my friend running while she was running down the street.

( A ) When I was downtown yesterday, I saw the police --- (chase/chasing) --- a thief.

( B ) There was an earthquake in my hometown last year. It was just a small one, but I could feel the ground --------- (shake/shaking).

( C ) Polly was working in her garden, so she didn’t hear the phone ---–(ring/ringing).

( D ) I like to listen to the birds--- (sing/signing)—when I get up early in the morning.

( E ) The guard observed a suspicious-looking person --- (come-coming) --- into the bank.

( F ) I was almost asleep last night when I suddenly heard someone -- (knock/knocking) – on the door.

Thank very Much,

spoonfedbaby
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Comments  
Hello, Spoonfedbaby,

I think both solutions are correct.
The -ing form implies the process took some time, or that you witnessed all the steps of the process.
Pieanne,

That seems like a helpful answer to me, at least on 'F' because it's the only example that might involve a question about duration. 'Knock' and 'knocking' suggest different time spans. I wonder how the other examples could have a preferred choice on the basis of considering how many steps there might be in the action being witnessed. Still, I wouldn't know how to pick the correct anwers on any of them.
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We've had discussions like this before - in most cases, there is really no "correct" answer. A native speaker might choose either form, either randomly, or to give some slight emphasis that is not obviously required by the limited context given int he examples. The "ing" form puts a bit more emphasis on the process of the action, while the other form puts a bit more emphasis on the fact or result of the action - but in most cases the difference is very subtle. In the examples given, I really would not consider any of the choices "wrong."
My understanding is like this.

When a base form is used, it is saying one saw/heard the event to complete.
When an -ing form is used , it is saying one saw/heard the event on going.

"I heard the bird sing" --> "I heard the whole of the singing activity"
"I heard the bird singing" --> "I heard a part of the singing activity"

[A]
(1) When I was downtown yesterday, I saw the police chase a thief.
I saw the thief finally captured by the police.
(2) When I was downtown yesterday, I saw the police chase a thief.
I don't know whether the police succeeded in the capture or not.

There was an earthquake in my hometown last year.
It was just a small one, but I could feel the ground shake.
(Is it possible to sense only a part of an earthquake?)
[C]
(1) Polly was working in her garden, so she didn't hear the phone ring.
(2) As Polly was working in her garden, she didn't hear the phone ringing.
So I took the phone instead.
[D]
I like to listen to the birds signing—when I get up early in the morning.
(Usually people have not so much time as to hear whole process of birds' singing)
[E]
(1) The guard observed a suspicious-looking person come into the bank.
(2) The guard observed a suspicious-looking person coming into the bank.
So he run to the office to ask his fellow people for help.
[F]
I was almost asleep last night when I suddenly heard someone knocking on the door.
(I'll choose "knocking". Because "suddenly" suggests the hearing is a short-time action)

paco
Since the two are nearly the same, the person who constructed the examples is trying to give clues. This ends up being an exercise in test psychology, not in English.

I think the clues being planted are:

If it has a "when" clause or a clause which indicates some activity which could have been happening at the same time as the target clause, use -ing.

It it has "suddenly" or indicates an event which might be considered sudden (earthquake), don't use -ing.

Another way of working it out is to make a version with a progressive tense and one with the corresponding simple tense, and join with an "and" clause like this:

The ground was shaking because of the earthquake -- (and) I felt it last year.
The ground shook because of the earthquake -- (and) I felt it last year.

Then choose the better one from the paraphrase. (Here "was shaking" and "last year" somehow don't go together, so I'd choose the second, which amounts to choosing "I felt it shake".)

CJ
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CalifJim,

Your tip convinces me to answer ing to A, C, D, F. Do I get a prize?

PS: I assume the test referred to by the questionner required a definitive choice.
Yes. Please give yourself a prize! Emotion: smile I wouldn't have chosen F, but who knows what the test maker wanted?

CJ
My defense of F:

Despite the term 'suddenly', I consider the state of mind in a person who is 'almost asleep'. The 'suddenly' was in the hearing, not in the knocking. A drowzy consciousness did not immediately recognize the knocking sounds, then suddenly the repeated noise broke through to full consciousness.

Have I watched too many movies?
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