Which is correct usage here?

  1. I didn't hear you calling my name.
  2. I didn't hear you call my name.

2 Answers 2


They are both correct.
This is the format for a "verb of perception".
From https://www.englishgrammar.org/verbs-perception/ :

Hear, see, watch, notice and similar verbs of perception can be followed by object + infinitive without to or object + -ing form.

The infinitive is used after these verbs when we want to say that we hear or see the whole of an action or event. The –ing form is used to suggest that we hear an action or event in progress.

From https://www.grammaring.com/see-watch-hear-listen-feel-smell-notice-observe-object-present-participle :

After verbs of perception (see, watch, hear, listen, feel, smell, notice, observe etc.), the present participle expresses an action that continues over a period of time, regardless of whether we perceive the whole action or only part of it.

If we want to emphasise that the action is completed, we use the bare infinitive.

  • But this sentence wrapper by did, how could you use calling?
    – Frank AK
    Jun 10, 2018 at 7:33
  • @FrankAK , updated answer. So, as far as the word "did", these sentences could be rewritten without it, just for grammar analysis. "I heard you call" or "I heard you calling". The main question is still present - should it be "call" or "calling"?
    – Sam
    Dec 27, 2018 at 17:16

Both sentences are grammatically correct. For information on usage, more context is required.

There's a subtle difference between the two. The first sentence indicates specifically that the call was unheard while the call was made; the second merely indicates that the call was unheard. But either would be acceptable responses to the question "why didn't you come when I called?".

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