2

1. I've heard this story told in three versions.

2. I've heard this story to be told in three versions.

I am not sure whether the second sentence is grammatically OK. If not, can you please explain to me why.

5
  • 1
    "I've heard three versions of this story" is probably the most natural way to express this. Of your examples, #1 is not natural, but still fine. With #2, "to be told" is not, but I can't say exactly why. "This story is to be told in three versions" would be ok, though. I would answer but I'm hoping someone can give a better reason why #2 is wrong.
    – Andrew
    Oct 5, 2016 at 19:11
  • The original sentence in version one is I've heard this story to have been told in three versions (_so far) which is reduced to told. However, I don't think the second version is wrong, because it shows this is the common way that this story is told (simple present).
    – Yuri
    Oct 5, 2016 at 19:15
  • @Andrew could you please have a look at my understanding of the second sentence? Do you think it's valid? (I would like to seek a native speaker's opinion on that)
    – Yuri
    Oct 5, 2016 at 19:17
  • @Yuri it doesn't seem quite right, but again I'm hoping someone with more insight can pinpoint why. "To be told" explains how, but doesn't match with "heard". "I've heard this story is to be told in three versions," would be fine, though.
    – Andrew
    Oct 5, 2016 at 19:30
  • Oh, thanks, it must be interesting then. I would wait for a good answer to this question +1.
    – Yuri
    Oct 5, 2016 at 19:32

2 Answers 2

0

The rule is that verbs of perception (see, watch, hear, listen, feel, smell, notice, observe, etc.) are followed by bare infinitive:

I heard him tell the story in three versions.

At the same time, in the passive voice, a to-infinitive is used:

This story was heard to be told in three versions.

The verbs of perception can also be followed by an object + past participle.

In this structure, the past participle has a passive meaning, and this seems to be your case:

I heard this story told in three versions.

(the source)

And there's also another alternative to express the idea - object + verb-ing construction:

I heard this story being told in three versions.

4
  • "I heard this story be told in three versions." That's not grammatical. The told should be the bare active infinitve
    – eques
    Oct 5, 2016 at 20:03
  • is said to be told is idiomatic. I don't think you'll find many attestations of "heard to be told". Heard told is well attested.
    – TimR
    Oct 6, 2016 at 23:25
  • @TRomano Yes, "there may be a joke, which is said to be told in various versions by residents of Tijuana, Mexico", but how can one use it in the context "I heard three versions of this story"? Is "was heard to be told" grammatically invalid? The OP's question seemed rather challenging to me and I suggested whatever comprehensible I could find to refer to.
    – Victor B.
    Oct 7, 2016 at 0:23
  • We would simply say "This joke was told in three versions." or less likely "This joke was heard in three versions" or even less likely "This joke was heard told in three versions". If we wish to repeat an allegation or claim which we ourselves have not substantiated: "This joke is said to have been told in three versions".
    – TimR
    Oct 7, 2016 at 11:26
0

I've heard this story be told in three versions.

is what you want to say.

I think what is going on here is that to hear is a verb of perception, and because of that the to of the infinitive to be is not specified.

Similar to:

I saw him walk across the pond.

I felt her touch me.

I perceived him be threatening to me.

1
  • "I heard this story be told in three versions." That's not grammatical. The told should be the bare active infinitve
    – eques
    Oct 5, 2016 at 20:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .