Complex object with "see" usage


The sentences:

There wasn't much traffic in the street.
I saw a little girl CROSS the road.

Question: Why "cross"? Why not "crossing"? Please, explain the rule or the sentence if it is correct.


Posted 2016-12-07T17:43:41.580

Reputation: 1 159



"I saw her cross the street" describes the event as a complete action from start to finish, while "I saw her crossing the street" describes the action as something that was in progress when you observed it. The first emphasizes what she did, the second emphasizes the girl's state at the time you saw her.


Posted 2016-12-07T17:43:41.580

Reputation: 584

Why not crosses? – user178049 – 2016-12-08T04:48:30.623

thanks a lot, but may I say " "I saw her crossED the street" ? of it will be incorrect? – Jane – 2016-12-08T13:23:07.010

Unless you restructure the sentence, the only two correct options are "I saw her cross the street" and "I saw her crossing the street". The sentence pattern in the first case is subject-verb-object-base, where base is the infinitive without a preceding to. A related pattern, subject-verb-object-infinitive, includes the preceding to. Which pattern to use depends on the verb. "I saw her to cross the street" is wrong, while "I wanted her to cross the street" is correct and "I wanted her cross the street" is incorrect. – Darryl – 2016-12-09T18:15:48.937

See the Verb Patterns section of

– Darryl – 2016-12-09T18:16:36.547