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He likes to watch her get hit.

vs.

He likes to watch her gets hit.

No matter how much I research, I still can't explain simply why get is correct and gets isn't.

Here's what I think, though. It's a combination of issues:

get hit is having gotten hit in present tense.

It's passive, because we don't specify the agent that is hitting her.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_passive_voice

"The subject of a sentence or clause featuring the passive voice denotes the recipient of the action (the patient) rather than the performer (the agent). The passive voice in English is formed periphrastically: the usual form uses the auxiliary verb be (or get) together with the past participle of the main verb.

So the get here is definitely acting passively.

Ignoring tense: get hit ~= be hit ~= being hit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerund#Gerunds_with_a_specified_subject

So, the key phrase in question is in passive voice (get is a helper verb), and get hit similarly acts nominalized.

get hit here can be substituted with beatdown:

We're watching (that someone received a) beatdown.

vs.

We're watching (whose?) beatdown.

In either case, it's still an argument between her being a direct object or acting possessively, so that's why it can't be she.

And because you can use any of them, her, him, it with get (and never gets in this context,) it just is.

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    I don’t understand any part of your argumentation, except that you correctly identify ‘get hit’ as a passive construction. Note that get is not “acting passively”, it is simply the auxiliary verb that signifies that hit is in the passive voice. The verb watch, like many other verbs (especially sense verbs), can take an infinitive argument. “Watch [someone] be/do/say/get/take/kick [something]”: the verb is always in the infinitive. ‘Get hit’ is a verbal phrase; you can’t just substitute it for a noun phrase ‘beatdown’. ‘Get hit’ is also not ‘having gotten hit’ in the present tense; -> – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 19 '14 at 19:23
  • -> that would be ‘getting hit’. It is not a present tense of anything, ’cause it’s not a present tense at all. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 19 '14 at 19:24
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    It is "He likes to watch her get hit" for the same reason it is "He likes to watch her be hit". The "get/be" is the plain form of a verb. It does not have primary tense, thus it is neither "present tense" nor "past tense". The plain form of the verb is used in infinitive and subjunctive and imperative constructions. You've asked good questions, and to get good answers it'd probably be best for you to find yourself a vetted grammar source, such as Huddleston and Pullum's 2005 textbook, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar. The stuff on the net is dubious at best. – F.E. Jan 19 '14 at 19:48
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    I think your problem is between the use of she and her. He likes to watch her get hit. OR He likes to watch while she gets hit." – Jim Jan 19 '14 at 20:06
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    Your example may have attracted more interest had it been less obviously repugnant. Couldn't you have made it 'He loved to watch her get sawn in half'. – WS2 Jan 19 '14 at 21:44
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Because watch is one of the many verbs which takes an infinitive verb (in this case, an infinitive without to). That is also why it has her, not she.

In the case of watch, there is actually another sense of watch which takes that and a finite verb. It means "take care that".

So

Watch her get hit.

(with the infinitive get) is about looking at the act of hitting, whereas

Watch that she doesn't get hit

(with the finite doesn't) is about taking care to avoid an act of hitting.

[I could have made it more parallel by saying Watch that she gets hit, but that is such an unlikely thing to say, that it is difficult to make sense of it: if I heard it, I would probably assume it was a non-English speaker trying to say watch her get hit.]

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