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What is the difference between 'eat' and 'eating' in the context of the following sentences:

When I see them eating, I feel compelled to eat.
When I see them eat, I feel compelled to eat.

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    For all practical purposes there's no difference between using the present participle eating or the unmarked infinitive eat in your exact context. – FumbleFingers Jul 16 '18 at 16:24
  • There's usually a difference, and I think eating would be the more common choice here because it's when you see them while they're in the process of eating that you get hungry or whatever – but you might as well have seen them eat, and then felt the urge. (Google Books searches (1, 2) seem to confirm this.) – userr2684291 Jul 21 '18 at 18:20
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I think although both can be used interchangeably and as @FumbleFingers mentioned, for practical purposes there's no difference. However, I think they're sometimes used differently, depending on the situation.

When I see them eating, I feel compelled to eat.

When you see them eating, they're in the process of eating and you'd usually (not always) say this while seeing them eat.

For instance: you're with a friend and you're watching them eat. You then whisper over to your friend "When I see them eating, I feel compelled to eat."

When I see them eat, I feel compelled to eat.

In this case you're generally saying every time you see them eat, you feel compelled to eat.

For instance: you're with a friend, and you're talking about them, and then you say "When I see them eat, I feel compelled to eat."

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