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What's the tense/classification?

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:49 pm
by BAofE
In the phrase "I watched a cat chase a mouse" what is the tense/classification of the verb "chase"?

Is it simply the verb stem?

Posted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 1:13 am
by aracely
The verb chase is in its present form. it cannot be used in past, because the verb "watched" is what you observed, no the cat. So it reads "I watched a cat chase a mouse"

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:28 am
by GiddyGad
Hi BAofE,

Actually, so many teachers want to know the correct answers, so few want to understand grammar once and for all.

It can't be any Tense, since it's not a Predicate. Hence, in your example, we can speak only of a verb form.
"Watched" is a Predicate and is in the Past; "chase" is Infinitive, which is easily proved by using negation in your sentence: "I watched a cat not to chase a mouse".

Infinitive is the name of a purpose, and, like other names (book, selfish, etc.), doesn't answer the question "when?" (Tenses do.)



Posted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:57 pm
by cityofislam
i think that it would be correct to say
I watched a cat chasing a mouse.

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:52 am
by Yuventius
i agree as above,
i watched a cat chasing a mouse.

but well, inspoken English either is fine.

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:22 am
by GiddyGad
No Yuventius,

It's not a matter of spoken English, it's a matter of grammatical norm.

In the given example, both Infinitive and Present Participle are grammatically correct, the difference being in subtleties of connotation: probably, Infinitive states a fact, while Present Participle shows the state of action in progress.



infinitive vs. present participle...

Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:36 am
by eric_p_m
Dear BAofE and Aracely,

Normally, the infinitive follows a conjugated verb. I would expect that you would already know that since your native language functions in the same manner. In English, "to", the infinitve marker, as in (to) chase may be omitted depending on the context's formality. Furthermore, you should not have any misconception of what an infinitive is. In Spanish, you have three versions: -ar, -er, -ir.

To support GiddyGad's response, "chasing" in Cityofislam's sentence is the present participle. The utilization of the infinitve or the present participle in this case though is a matter of aspect. Using the infinitive shows a generalization while employing the present participle brings the action into a closer relationship with the subject. Likewise, the gerund, which has the same grammatical form with the present participle in English, functions in the same way in contrast to infinitive usage.


Eric Paul Monroe

Posted: Sat Sep 16, 2006 3:53 am
by odyssey
GiddyGad wrote:"chase" is Infinitive, which is easily proved by using negation in your sentence: "I watched a cat not to chase a mouse".
Agreed, except that it would be:

I watched a cat not chase a mouse.

(as in "I watched a cat not chasing a mouse")

Re: What's the tense/classification?

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:16 pm
by alanov9
I'm of the opinion that in the sentence, "I watched a cat chase a mouse", the verb "chase" is in the infinitive mood. This is clearer in the Latin or Greek grammar where, in some cases (usually in reported speech), the subject and the object of the sentence are both in the accusative case and the verb in the infinitive. "What differentiates the subject from the object is their position in the sentence; the subject comes first. This is exactly the same situation here.

Re: What's the tense/classification?

Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:00 pm
by Syl
The present participle is used to describe an activity in progress, especially when all parts of the activity are watched. If you report on the facts only, then you will use the infinitive in both verbs like:

"We saw the man open the car door, put in the box and drive off."

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