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I was teaching my student the concept of past participles and got stuck when I was using it in the use of Verbs of Perception.

So I had this sentence:

  • "Tom saw Peter fall off his bicycle," Mary told me.

In Reported Speech, this would be:

  • Mary told me that Tom had seen Peter fall off his bicycle.

My question is the verb 'fall' correct or should it be changed to 'fell'?

Thank you!

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    "Fell" is not possible. "See" is a catenative verb, and "fall" is a plain (infinitive) verb heading the bare infinitival clause "fall off his bicycle" functioning as catenative complement of "see". – BillJ Oct 23 '17 at 8:33
  • I've posted an answer giving a more detailed explanation. – BillJ Oct 23 '17 at 15:14
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Mary told me that Tom had seen Peter [fall off his bicycle].

The simple answer is no. In your example "fall" is not a tensed verb-form, but a plain (infinitive) form, so it is not replaceable by past tense "fell".

"See" is a catenative verb which requires either a bare infinitival clause or a gerund-participial clause as catenative complement.

In your example, "fall" is head of the bare infinitival clause "fall off his bicycle", which is functioning as catenative complement of "see".

If you're not familiar with term 'catenative', it comes from the Latin word for "chain", which is appropriate here since the construction consists of a chain of verbs in which all except the last have a non-finite complement.

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