I saw a sentence in an article:

Janey saw her friend steal a bangle at the shop.

Why not stole, as it use saw?

Why her friend is singular but steal with no 's'?

  • When she saw it, it was in the present time. – user3169 Sep 27 '18 at 4:29
  • A similar question: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/180736/… – Alex_ander Sep 27 '18 at 4:54
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    If you use a finite clause (eg introduced by "that", then you back-shift the verb: "Janey saw that her friend stole a bangle". But the construction you are using is with a non-finite verb (the base form, or 'infinitive', "steal"). – Colin Fine Sep 27 '18 at 9:23

It should actually be ‘steal’ or ‘stealing’. The “pastness” of the action is already conveyed with ‘saw’.

Janet saw her friend steal a bangle at the shop

Janet saw her friend stealing a bangle at the shop

The first emphasises the completion of the stealing (Janet got away with it!) and the second emphasises the stealing action itself (Janet might or might not have been caught).

With the verb “to see”, if there is a verb after the object of “to see”, it must be in the present or present continuous sense. In this sentence, “her friend” is the object of “to see”, so we must have either “steal” or “stealing”.

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    Steal (or any other verb heading a complement of see) is in neither the simple nor continuous present "tense": it is in a nonfinite (untensed) form, either an unmarked infinitive or a gerund-participle. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 27 '18 at 4:47
  • I stand corrected @StoneyB. – MotherBrain Sep 27 '18 at 4:49

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