observation verbs followed by ing form or bare infinitive

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allthewayanime

Senior Member
Bilingual(Romanian-Italian)
I've got a big doubt regarding this topic.I know that a verb expressing observation or perception can be only followed by a noun and a participial phrase (-ing)

But I've come across that (quoted from an English grammar book)'A verb expressing observation/ perception can be also followed by a noun and a base verb form. The suffix -ing is deleted from the verb. There is no difference in meaning.'

Here are some examples:
1.We felt the temperature rising. - We felt it rise.


2.We observed the doctor doing open-heart surgery. - (no base-form equivalent)



I don't quite get it.Why the first sentence could work with a bare infinitive and second no?Is the bare infinitive actually possible with an observation/perception verb?Could someone enlighten me on this matter,please?
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    "We observed the doctor do open-heart surgery."
    That seems OK to me.

    Though, to be honest, I really don't like "observe" with either form. That's probably a personal peculiarity.
     

    Linguo IS Dead

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "We observed the doctor do open-heart surgery."
    That seems OK to me.
    I was just about to post that it sounds a little funny to me, but that it's specific to the word "observe" (and a few other words). I'm perfectly happy with:

    We saw the doctor do open-heart surgery.
    We watched the doctor do open-heart surgery.

    ...but I don't like:

    We noticed the doctor do open-heart surgery.

    ...and yet I have no problem with:

    We noticed the doctor doing open-heart surgery.

    I think in the case of "notice", it's because the word conveys a single instant: the moment of going from not-seeing to seeing. So it would be impossible to "notice" a complete action, only a split-second of that action. "Observe", on the other hand, is the opposite; it conveys continuous, ongoing seeing. So I'm not sure why it sounds strange to me to say, for instance:

    We observed her leave.

    ...while I'm totally fine with:

    We observed her leaving.

    But in any case, I think it's simply that the author shares my objection to "observe" being used in this way, but it's word-specific, and not a grammar issue.
     
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