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I read the following:

The next day as I watched them get married...

How does it differ from the following? Is one more eloquent and accurate than other?

The next day as I watched them getting married...

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Is this about the grammar, difference in meaning, or the eloquence? If it is about eloquence, your best bet is to ask writers.SE. – Mitch Mar 14 '12 at 14:39
I'm pretty sure this is a dupe, but so far I have only found two related questions: Why doesn't the second verb agree with the subject of that verb? and Subject + “have had” + bare infinitive … ever correct? – RegDwigнt Mar 14 '12 at 14:40
@Mitch- it's kind of both. – Noah Mar 14 '12 at 15:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's largely a matter of stylistic choice. There can sometimes be a nuance of meaning involved - for example...

  • I watched him hit the man

  • I watched him hitting the man

...where the second one implies multiple blows more strongly than the first.

Feasibly a case can be made for saying "I watched him light the fire" attaches more importance to the fact that an act was performed (with the implication that the fire having been lit is important later). In contrast to "I watched him lighting the fire", which might be said to concentrate on the ongoing performance of the act (with the implication that the process itself is "interesting"). Any such distinction is tenuous at best, and would really be better discussed on

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Actually, I saw it more as the distinction between event durations as per your final point, there is no need for something to happen more than once. You get married when you sign the contract, you are getting married from some earlier point (be it the start of the ceremony, or when you get engaged, etc). – paxdiablo Nov 16 at 9:19

I have a different idea.

When you had watched the wedding from the beginning to the end, then you say, "I watched them get married." You watched the whole process.

But you're late for the wedding for some reason, or whatever else made you late for it, and when you got to the ceremony, it'd already begun, then you couldn't see it from the beginning. Then you can say, "I watched them getting married."

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Technically, you could draw a shade of distinction between the two: "I watched them get married" places more of a focus on the action, while "I watched them getting married" places more of a focus on the people who are performing the action.

In this particular action, it feels like there is really no difference between the two, and in the general case it's very clear from context where the focus was:

I watched him light the fire; it was quite an involved process.

I watched him light the fire; he was so gleeful about it I thought he might be an arsonist.

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You mean lighting in one of those, right? – aedia λ Mar 14 '12 at 20:21
I could have used 'lighting' in either of them, but the point is that the thing being watched is clear from the secondary clause. – Hellion Mar 14 '12 at 21:21

My $0.02 worth,

The next day as I watched them get married...

Implies the marriage ceremony happened in the past and is complete.

The next day as I watched them getting married...

Implies the ceremony began on the next day, but might be continuing though the watcher may not still be watching. I believe this is called an imperfect tense.

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I like this answer, a lot. – Peddler Mar 14 '12 at 19:56

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