I do understand the active constructions of verbs of this type, but I am still a bit confused with the passive construction(s). Can anyone here clarify my confusion? Please consider the following: He was seen do the test He was seen to do the test He was seen doing the test

If the person saw him do the test (in other words, he saw the completion of the action), which one should I use?

1 Answer 1


Of your three options, the first is wrong. You cannot say: He was seen do the test. If you use the verb do in this context, it requires the infinitive to in front of it.

Thus, it's correct to say: He was seen to do the test. This implies - without stating explicitly - that he was seen to have taken the whole test and completed it.

It is also correct to say: He was seen doing the test - using the participle rather than the infinitive. This states that he was seen in the act of doing the test, as though somebody had glanced through a classroom window and seen him at the desk.

Unlike the previous example, it does not imply that he was seen completing the test.

However, neither construction is explicit. A listener would not know without further information whether he had completed the test or merely been witnessed in the act of being tested.

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