Which one is correct? What is the main differences between them?

I saw him play football Or I saw him playing


  • Welcome to EL&U. Unfortunately, this topic has been done to death here, and possibly even on English Language Learners. – Cascabel Aug 29 '19 at 2:22
  • Use the search box. Present progressive. – Xanne Aug 29 '19 at 2:58

For your particular sentence, the most common sentence by far would be

I saw him playing football

This means that I saw him, and what he was doing at the time, was playing football.

Let's take a different example: perform vs. performing.

  1. I'm a big fan of Marcel Marceau's. I've watched everything of his I can find on Youtube. I even saw him perform once, live, about 40 years ago. I'll never forget it.

  2. I saw my son playing with our little neighbor this afternoon. It looked like they were having a great time.

The key difference is the "once" in Example 1.

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