Welcome to your “See Someone Do / Doing” lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• “See someone do”
• “See someone doing”
• Differences between the structures
• “See” and “Hear”
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“See someone do”
Imagine this situation. James got into his car and drove to work. You saw this. So you can say:
“I saw James get into his car and drive to work.”
In this structure, we use “get/drive/cook/do” etc. (not “to get/to drive/to cook/to do” etc.)
But after a passive (“he was seen”), we use to:
“He was seen to get into his car.”
“See someone doing”
Imagine this situation. Sue was working out at the gym yesterday. You saw this. So you can say:
“I saw Sue working out at the gym.”
In this structure, we use “+ing” (getting/driving/cooking/doing).
Differences between the structures
“I saw her do something” means “she did something and I saw this” (Past Simple). I saw her do this from the beginning to the end:
He fell off his bike. I saw this:
“I saw him fall off his bike.”
The accident happened. Did you see it?
“Did you see the accident happen?”
“I saw her doing something” means “she was doing something and I saw it” (Past Continuous). I saw her when she was in the middle of the action:
She was jogging in the park. I saw her run past.
“I saw her jogging in the park.”
I drove past a man who was dancing on the street.
“I saw him dancing.”
Sometimes the difference is not important and you can use either form:
“I’ve never seen him cook.” ↔ “I’ve never seen him cooking.”
“See” and “Hear”
We use this structure with the verbs “see” and “hear”, as well as other verbs:
“She felt someone looking at her.”
“They could hear it raining.”
“We could see people paragliding.”
“Listen to the birds singing.”
“I can smell something burning.”
“I found her in my bedroom, looking through my drawers.”