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I saw him kick the stone.

According to my reference book this sentence is grammatically correct even though the verb 'kick' is in present tense while the action has already happened.

If I write like this:

I saw him kicked the stone.

Is this sentence still grammatically correct? Or we must use kick in present tense since the verb saw already clarifies that this is a past action? Or are both right?

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2 Answers

“I saw him kick the stone” is the correct form, not “kicked”. That's because it's not the present tense, but the infinitive (one particular example of that is that it's not “kicks”, but “kick”).

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Note that only a few verbs take a bare infinitive like this: let but not allow, help but not encourage, see/hear/watch but not find/picture. It just depends on the verb. –  Jason Orendorff Apr 4 '11 at 12:35
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In fact see in its usual meaning takes a bare infinitive, but see meaning "foresee, anticipate, consider plausible" doesn't accept an infinitive at all. I don't see them beating Manchester United is correct; I don't see them to beat Manchester United is wrong with or without the to. –  Jason Orendorff Apr 4 '11 at 12:41
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@Jason Orendorff: And just to illustrate your point further: I didn't see them beating Manchester United could either mean I didn't expect them to beat ManU or I didn't see the match in which they beat ManU, but I didn't see them beat ManU can only have the latter of the two meanings. –  psmears Apr 24 '11 at 13:33
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You can use the past tense if you say

I saw he kicked the stone.

or

I saw that he kicked the stone.

This treats the phrase "[that] he kicked the stone" as the direct object of "saw".

However, if you want to keep "him" as the direct object you will have to use the present tense for the final clause. You could also use the present progressive

I saw him kicking the stone.

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As F'x says, those forms aren't usually called present tense or present progressive, but rather bare infinitive and gerund/participle. –  Cerberus Apr 4 '11 at 12:03
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