rose   Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:34 am GMT
Hello native speaker please explain agreement in these sentences:::

The children watched the farmer milk the cows.

The traffic police saw the driver speed past the red light.

the little boy watched the spider spin its wet.

my question is why all the sentences above used bare infinitive after the second subject. thanks
Lazar   Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:04 am GMT
<<The children watched the farmer milk the cows.>>

This construction (noun + bare infinitive) means that the children witnessed the act of milking, which was performed by the farmer. Likewise, the traffic police witnessed the act of speeding past the red light, which was performed by the driver; and the little boy witnessed the act of spinning, which was performed by the spider.
David B   Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:34 pm GMT
As this thread deals with the same thing as the one titled 'helloo' I'll repost what I wrote there:

"I have no idea why they use infinitive instead of the past form of the verb - I'm no a native speaker, but let's hope such person will explain it to us."

In English the simple present and the simple past forms of a verb can never be the complements of another verb in the same clause. If you see an -ed form after another verb, it's the past participle not the simple past. If you see the verb without any inflection after another verb, it's the base form (the infinitive without to-) not the simple present.

Because past tense is often confused with past participle and simple present is often confused with the base form, the best way is to learn how the verb 'be' goes in any situation.

If you use:

am, is, are: use simple present for other verbs
was, were: use simple past
be: use infinitive without to
to be: use to- infinitive
been: use past participle
being use -ing forms (which can be present participle or gerund)

Back to why not an -ed form in the sentences. In English past participles are used in perfect constructions and to convey passive ideas eg


'I had the car repaired by someone (repaired = past participle so it's a passive idea)

'I had someone repair the car (repair = base form so it's an active idea)

'she felt someone touched her shoulder' would suggest someone had meant to say

'she felt her shoulder touched by someone' (passive)

or a two clause sentence

'she felt (that) someone had touched her shoulder