Did you hear the alarm go off (went off, going off)

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I found this example in a grammar book.

> Did you hear the alarm go off?

What the rule is used here? Why is it not a "went off" or "goes off"?
And does it have a difference from a "Did you hear the alarm going off"?
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    'to go off' is the verb, meaning to sound (or ring, in the case of a bell), used in the infinitive after 'Did' in a question.

    'Did you hear the alarm went off?' would mean: "Did you hear that the alarm went off?" (in other words, you may not have heard the alarm yourself, but did somebody tell you that it went off?)


    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Just treat "go off" the same as any compound verb with "go" in it.

    The alarm went off.
    The man went mad.

    The alarm is going off.
    The man is going mad.

    If you open the door the alarm will go off.
    If you lock him in prison he will go mad.

    But be aware of the fact that "go off" is also used to describe food that can no longer be consumed because it's too old!!

    "Don't eat that bread; it has gone off".
    "I can't make tea because the milk has gone off".

    I know, it's weird. But that's English!


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It's yet another illustration of the choice we have in English after a verb of perception, between a bare infinitive or an -ing form complement. There are many existing threads you can find by searching our dictionary.

    Did you hear the alarm going off? This takes us into the action, as it is occurring. It seems an unusual question, since one would normally not be concerned with the duration of the sound, but rather with whether it went off or not.

    Did you hear the alarm going off all day again? It drove me mad!
    Didn't you hear the alarm go off? - Nah, I must have slept right through it.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Did you hear the alarm go off?

    Did you hear it at the first moment is started.

    Did you hear the alarm going off?

    Did you hear it while it was continuously ringing (even if you didn't hear it at the very first moment)?

    Were you present when the alarm went off?

    At the point in the past that the alarm went off were you at that place?

    Did you hear the alarm went off? e.g. Did you hear the alarm went off yesterday?

    Did someone tell you about the fact that the alarm started ringing (at some earlier point in time).
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