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I was wondering which sentence would be better, the progressive one or the other.

The door you heard closing was not him going out, it was me coming in

The door you heard close was not him going out, it was me coming in

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    Hello, I've put the sentences into the body of the question. Take a look at How to Ask. Why do you have doubt about these two sentences?
    – James K
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:34
  • Because in English you always have an alternative, so I doubt any sentence.
    – man del
    Apr 13, 2021 at 6:49
  • Yes, but you asked about this one. For example, you haven't asked a question about the sentence "I doubt any sentence". So, there must be some reason. Probably you have studied some grammar, so you have already done some prior research. If you tell us about it, you might get better answers.
    – James K
    Apr 13, 2021 at 7:04

2 Answers 2

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There is very little difference in meaning. Perhaps the sound of a closing door is a squeak of the hinges, and the sound as it closes is a click of the latch.

But both are possible and idiomatic here

By the way. "... you heard close...", not "...your...".

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  • Thanks, yes sorry it was "you", the problem is the context which is so important in English, without context you could say the slow-motion of the door, squeak of the hinges, it's great. What do you mean by "idiomatic"?
    – man del
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:23
  • By "idiomatic" I mean that this sounds to me like a line that a native speaker of English would actually produce in this situation. It doesn't seem "odd", in my judgement.
    – James K
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:33
  • Idiomatic and colloquial in opposition to formal?
    – man del
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:39
  • Do I understand the -ing or progressive form is always "idiomatic"?
    – man del
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:41
  • "Idiomatic" in opposition to "grammatical but unnatural". There are lots of expressions that are formal and idiomatic or informal and idiomatic. Both your examples are idiomatic. There are expressions with -ing forms that are not idiomatic.
    – James K
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:47
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The door [you] heard closing was not him going out, it was me coming in[.]

The door [you] heard close was not him going out, it was me coming in[.]

The present continuous tense 'closing' seems to describe the process of the movement more than the other one does.

Using one of the two examples, I suggest small changes, as shown. Any other suitable verb could be used for this demonstration.

The door you heard closing was not [pulled by] him going out, it was [pushed by] me coming in.

The door was not me; it was pushed by me.

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  • I see no need for "pushed by" and I don't think that is very natural. It is common to say "it was me" even if logically "it" is a door. What figure of speech is this? metonymy?
    – James K
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:37
  • The "hidden" preposition "by" is in a way triggering the progressive form?
    – man del
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:38

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