This question already has an answer here:

Glow and glowing are different forms of a verb, but does the tense make any difference? Which one of these (in each pair) is correct and why?

  1. "I saw you dancing" or "I saw you dance".
  2. "I will watch you cook" or "I will watch you cooking".
  3. "I am watching you sing" or "I am watching you singing".

marked as duplicate by David M, RyeɃreḁd, MetaEd, Mari-Lou A, MrHen Mar 2 '14 at 16:05

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 2
    They're all valid. I can't think of a context where it makes any difference. – FumbleFingers Mar 1 '14 at 5:32
  • @FumbleFingers: Maybe not a duplicate, as this Q has three different tenses ("glowing" has only one). While that may not have been the thrust of the Q, my answer does address the implications of tense. – Martin F Mar 1 '14 at 7:00
  • My question, though, is should this be moved to ELL? I don't mean kicked angrily, but migrated gracefully. ;-) – Martin F Mar 1 '14 at 7:09
  • @martin: Those "three different tenses" are irrelevant to the question, which concerns the possible difference between using the -ing (continuous) form and the simple (unmarked infinitive) form (i.e. - dancing or dance). That's the same whatever the tense of the main verb (to dance). – FumbleFingers Mar 1 '14 at 13:02
  • @FumbleFingers - Nevertheless, there they are, and how do you know they are irrelevant? – Martin F Apr 7 '14 at 3:21

They are all correct or valid. The difference in meaning, if any, is very subtle indeed.

To me, the dancing, cooking and singing cases -- if they were all in the past tense (and I realize they are not, but bear with me) -- are suggestive of a shorter period of time, as if I did not witness the entire event. The dance, cook and sing cases -- again, if they were all in the past -- are suggestive of a longer period of time, as if I witnessed most of the event.

If they are in the present or future tenses ("I am..." or "I will..."), then the dance, cook and sing cases just sound better to me.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.