Which is the correct version of this sentence:

  • This video shows a heart transplant take place.
  • This video shows a heart transplant taking place.

I have a hunch that both are correct, but for the life of me I can't recall in grammatical terms why the first option is correct also.


The correct version is taking place, because in the video, the event is continually taking place.

To show "a heart surgery take place" is incorrect, though you might also say "a heart surgery that took place," because if there is a video of it, it clearly happened already.

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  • The first question to address is whether complex catenations of the verb 'show' with bare infinitives and/or -ing forms are acceptable. The -ing forms are certainly acceptable; the bare infinitive constructions seem to be acceptable at least in the US: 'This movie shows him go after various people' (internet). I'd not use the bare infinitive construction at all, but people seem to agree that it's at least inappropriate for durative acts / processes. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 2 '14 at 23:30

Handcuffed by the question, I have to say 'This video shows a heart transplant taking place.'It's correct but more elegant to say 'this video shows a heart transplant operation'. Sentences with cumbersome tenses and involved clauses beginning with 'that', 'which', 'what' and so on, I try to avoid in the interests of brevity, clarity and holding readers' interest.

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