• I enjoy watching people suffering.

  • I enjoy watching people suffer.

I feel more comfortable using the second one, but I also think that the first one is right... so which one should I use?

  • 3
    I'd avoid saying either aloud in company. – KillingTime Feb 11 '19 at 6:20
  • Does this answer your question? "help achieve" usage (verb licensing) Stoney B's answer contains "Bas Aarts, Oxford Modern English Grammar, gives the following list, which is not exhaustive: feel have hear let make notice observe see watch. 3 of these have an effective sense (“Let my people go”, “The Devil made me do it!”, “I'll have my assistant find that for you.” ). The rest are all verbs of perception (“She felt/heard/noticed/observed/saw/watched him take her bag”), which can also be used with gerunds. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 8 '19 at 16:13

Both are equally correct but have different meanings. The first one means that I am delighted to see that people are/were suffering. The second one means that I am delighted to see that people suffer.


"I enjoy watching people suffer" is correct because "suffer" is actually a verb- "suffering" is generally used as a noun.

The first sentence I would use when I wanted to speak in present tense, or refer to an event that I enjoy.

The second sentence could be rewritten as "I enjoy watching people who are suffering" (in which case, 'suffering' becomes present participle).

To speak in past tense, it could be rewritten as, "I enjoy watching the sufferings of people."


The first one implies that you enjoy watching the action/process itself (like: I enjoy watching people being tortured.) The second one sounds more general.

Compare these examples I was once taught:

I saw John crossing the street. - I caught him in the middle of the action

I saw John cross the street. - I saw the entire action

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