I was reading a story "The piece of string" by Guy de Maupassant, when I read this line:

"Mr. Manana, the harness man saw you pick up the pocketbook."

I read it several times and it didn't seemed correct to me.

I want to ask if picking up would be the correct form to use instead of pick up, or better. Or is it just a difference of American English and UK English ?

2 Answers 2


The only difference I can see is the matter of completion.

I saw him pick up the book

Indicates that the action was completed.

I saw him picking up the book

Does not necessarily mean that the viewer ever saw the action completed.

The difference is pretty much negligible and comes down to a stylistic choice. Both options are correct.


The phrases "I saw you pick up the book"

and "I saw you picking up the book"

They both mean essentially the same and they are both correct.

  • Welcome to the ELL :-). A more in-depth explanation would make this a better answer this way it's more of a comment.
    – Lucky
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 22:41

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