Do you know this song of the Velvet Underground "I heard her call my name"?

I was wondering why it is not calling instead of call because we can suppose that it happens many times not once, so calling seems to be a better way to express this idea. So could calling work here? What is the difference between the two?

I know it is a song and a writer may or may not respect grammar rules.


2 Answers 2


Verbs of perception like see, feel, hear and notice + a pronoun as a general rule, can take a noun or gerund:

  • I heard her call my name. [She called my name once.]
  • I heard her calling my name. [She called my name once or various times.]

The second, by using a gerund, may imply it was more than once at the same time: "Jean, Jean, oh Jean, where are you?" However, the first is only one.

  • ok but if he heard the girl calling her name once but every hour (I know it is a bit weird but we can imagine it ) is it better to use call or calling
    – Yves Lefol
    Jan 21 at 7:00
  • @user5577 - neither is better. 'Call', having one syllable, fits the tune. 'Calling' would not. Jan 21 at 9:33
  • @user5577 If you understood what I said, you wouldn't be asking this. :)
    – Lambie
    Jan 21 at 15:55

Either "call" or "calling" could be used if she called his name either once or multiple times. "Calling" is a present participle and thus connotes an ongoing activity, but "call" works for multiple instances of the activity, too.

An example:

She called me all day, but I never responded.

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