I have heard people using both versions at times but I don't quite get the difference. I am not used to the second version and a little in doubt if it is even grammatically correct. Can you also give me some references to study the second template in more depth?

  • 1
    You can't see sounds.
    – codi6
    Jul 5, 2020 at 7:59
  • 1
    Perhaps a lip-reader could see people saying things? Jul 5, 2020 at 10:23
  • @codi6 Have you heard of synesthesia? Jul 5, 2020 at 19:58
  • @CoderInNetwork Lol fair enough, some people can see sounds. But the English language doesn't really take that into account when creating grammatical structures.
    – codi6
    Jul 6, 2020 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


To me, “saying” has the effect of putting you right there in the moment of the person speaking, whereas “say” is a bit more past tense, and focuses simply on the fact that “they said that.” With “saying”, you begin to picture the speaker in your mind during their actual act of speaking, whereas with “say” you focus more simply on the fact that something has been said.

While it is true that we cannot see sounds, the use of “seen” may emphasise the fact that we were there in person to witness them speaking, or as Michael Harvey comments, it may refer to lip reading. With that said, “heard” would probably be more common than “seen”.

  • Thanks for your answer, it makes sense. Jul 5, 2020 at 19:58

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