Learn English – To see them play/playing


Excuse my limited acquaintance on English usage; which sentence is grammatically correct, and if any, which meaning does each convey?

  • I saw them play chess.
  • I saw then playing chess.

Best Answer

Both are grammatically correct. My interpretation as an AmE speaker is as follows.

I saw them play chess.

This in the simple past. It implies the person doing the "seeing" saw the chess game finish in the past.

I saw them playing chess.

This is, again, the simple past, buy playing implies a continuous event, which was not finished at the time the speaker stopped "seeing" them.

This interpretation relies on formal speech. In informal speech, there is not as much distinction between these two forms.