I have never heard her sing

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New Member
I encountered a sentence in my textbook : I have never heard her sing. Why there is used "sing"? As for me, I would say "her singing" but the textbook disagree with me, as well as Google, which provided me with the other example: I have never heard her speak in English untill now. I failed to find any explanation.
Thank you in advance.
  • Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    In the title of this thread you have the possessive "someone's".

    < the thread title has been edited by a moderator - previously I have never heard someone's+verb >

    With "her", it is impossible to know whether we are looking at the possessive or the objective form.
    But if the singer were a male person, we would say "I have never heard him sing" (not "his").
    That shows that we are dealing with the objective form. "I have never heard Jane sing" (not "Jane's").
    Both forms are grammatical:
    (1) I heard her sing yesterday. (I heard her complete an act of singing, perhaps a whole song.)
    (2) I heard her singing yesterday. (I heard part of a continuing act of singing, maybe just a few notes.)
    Last edited by a moderator:


    New Member
    Thank you for clarification ,Cenzontle, but there is another question remains unclear, why there are "sing" and "singing", why "sang" and "was singing" (as for me that seems to be more reasonable because of the past tense) are wrong?

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Well, kat, the notion of past time is already expressed by the past tense of hear (ie heard).
    As for the whole structure, I'm sure you'll find it in other languages you may have studied, such as French, Italian, Spanish and German.
    As far as English is concerned, the genesis of the sentence can be seen thus:

    I heard [SOMETHING] —> I heard [SHE — SING] —> I heard [HER — SING] —> I heard her sing

    What is important is to consider that the OBJECT of the verb HEAR is the nexus [SHE — SING], not just [SHE].


    GS :)


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    In a sequence of verbs, only the first has tense:

    She sings / sang.
    She has / had sung.
    She is / was singing.
    She has / had been singing.
    She will / would have been singing.
    I hear / heard her sing(ing).
    I have / had heard her sing(ing).
    I try / tried to sing.

    The underlined verb has past or present tense marking. The following verbs are a 'non-finite' form - plain form 'sing', past participle 'sung', gerund-participle 'singing' - which depends on the verb before it (past participle after forms of 'have', for example). This (only the first verb has tense) is true whether it's a modal verb ('be', 'have', 'will', 'can' etc.) or an ordinary verb (like 'hear' or 'try').

    Sensation verbs like 'hear' and 'see' can be followed by either the plain form or the present participle, without much real difference:

    I saw him play. / I heard her sing.
    I saw him playing. / I heard her singing.
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