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I read this sentence: "You've frequently heard me speak of her."

As a language learner, if I say this sentence it would be like: " You've frequently heard me speaking of her."

I cannot understand why "speak" has been used here. And how speaking would be wrong or change the meaning.

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"You've heard me speak of her" and "you've heard me speaking of her" are both possible.

There's a slight difference in meaning:

To see/hear someone DO something means to witness the whole action. "The little boy was running around, and then I saw him trip and fall."

To see/hear someone DOING something means to see or hear it for a moment but not necessarily the whole time, and thus to witness only part of it. It's most often used if Bob was already at works when Alice noticed. "As I walked by, I saw my neighbour pruning her roses."

I'm going to name the characters for convenience: Bob says to Alice, "You've frequently heard me speak of Claire."

"You've heard me speaking of her" would kind of imply that Alice came to the room while Bob was talking to Dave or something like that.

If Claire came up in a conversation between Bob and Alice and Alice was there to hear all Bob had to say, "you've heard me speak of her" is more accurate.

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  • In your example do and doing are different tenses of the same verb. Which does not apply to speak and speaking in our case.
    – Brad
    Jun 9 at 2:58
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It does change things because in this case "speak" is a verb and "speaking" is a noun.


"You've frequently heard me speak of her." vs " You've frequently heard me speaking of her."

Obviously they have different means but the only real problem I have with the second sentence is the use of "speaking of" without a subject. I would also suggest "speaking about" would have been a better option. Finally I will also disregard the slight misuse, in this context, of the noun "speaking".

"You've frequently heard me speak of her."

In this case it is a generalisation you have heard me relate a story/stories about her.

"You've frequently heard me speaking of her"

of what? In this instance "of" means to relate something, you are telling a story and therefore we need to specify what you are speaking about because in this case

"speaking" is the act or skill of giving a speech at a public event:

You have frequently heard me speaking of her achievements."


speaking; noun [ U ];the act or skill of giving a speech at a public event: Ref C.E.D.


of; preposition; (RELATING TO) Ref [C.E.D.][3]

relate verb [T] (TELL) to tell a story or describe a series of events: Ref [C.E.D.][4]

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  • You've frequently heard me speaking of her. As you wrote that "speaking of" need a subject. Isn't "her" acting as the subject here?
    – Learner
    Jun 9 at 14:39
  • So you are giving a Speech at the local town Hall the Bill Board reads Tonight The Revered E.C. Clesiastical talks about the life time Achievements of "Her"?....." Margret Thatcher, you have frequently heard me speaking of her achievements."
    – Brad
    Jun 10 at 0:44
  • However I personally would never say "speaking" in this context but "speak about her achievements"
    – Brad
    Jun 10 at 0:50
  • I got your point. Thanks @Brad
    – Learner
    Jun 11 at 6:58

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