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Listen to her ___ the song and then tell us what you think of it.

A) to sing

B) to be singing

C) being sung

D) to have sung

E) sing

I think answer should be either "C" or "E" but I'm not really sure.

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    I'd go for option F) singing!. Your option C) being sung sounds that she's a song! – Maulik V Oct 16 '15 at 6:06
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    Either 'sing' or 'singing' works, but I can't formally describe why, so I'm putting this in a comment rather than an answer. It is something to do with the listening and the singing taking place together, before the 'and then' part, so the infinitive is present tense. – whybird Oct 16 '15 at 6:56
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    @MaulikV No, it sounds like someones "singing her a song"! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 16 '15 at 9:50
  • Agreed. But then I'll say that it also sounds like... @Araucaria :) – Maulik V Oct 16 '15 at 9:55
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    Indeed a very interesting, simple and yet challenging question. I totally forgot the "sing somebody something" structure. – Chu Wa Tim Tim Oct 16 '15 at 10:55
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The Original Poster is right. The answer could be either c) or e):

Example C

  • They're going to sing her your song.
  • Oh no! How embarrassing!
  • Well, listen to her being sung the song and tell us what you think then!

Example E

  • She's going to sing us a song.
  • On no! She's a terrible singer!
  • Well, listen to her sing the song and tell us what you think.

However, the golden rule of any test or exam is:

  • Give the monkeys what they want.

This means that you need to know what your examiners want. They want you to say E. You know this because they are testing your knowledge of perception verbs like listen or see. Answer E show that you understand. Answer C is complicated and could only be used in certain circumstances. The person who set the test made a mistake. The editor didn't see it (it's the editor's fault!).

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  • given one more F) singing what would be your choice then? – Maulik V Oct 16 '15 at 10:34
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    Oh i got it..."her being sung a song" as one thing....thz..i should have thought of that earlier. This option is actually possible too. – Chu Wa Tim Tim Oct 16 '15 at 10:53
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    I disagree that Example C is correct... you would not be listening to HER. The accurate way to state it in that context would be "Listen to them singing the song to her". The phrase listen to her being sung the song is awkward at best and indicates that you are listening to her reactions rather than the song. – Holly Oct 16 '15 at 17:15
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    @Araucaria, your answer fails to prove that native speakers use the language that way. – Carsten S Oct 16 '15 at 18:20
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    I agree with @Holly. Another possibility would be "Listen to the song being sung to her, ...". – Carsten S Oct 16 '15 at 18:21
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A) "listen to her to sing a song", seems to mean the purpose of "listen" is to "sing a song".

B) similiar to A, but the verb "sing" is described as a longer action.

C) a person cannot be sung, logical error.

D) a person cannot finish a song by lsitening to other's singing, logical error too.

E) the only correct answer. Similar to "i heard you sing in the bathroom." "Sing" here is in its bare-infinitive form, while "listen" is the main verb.

F) also correct, similar to (E), but "singing" is an active participle modifying "her".

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  • Your answer regarding c) is wrong. The OP is right. It can mean listen to someone singing her the song. Where's f) by the way? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 16 '15 at 9:53
  • I cant agree with this, would you mind giving more material supporting your ideas. – Chu Wa Tim Tim Oct 16 '15 at 9:55
  • E) is correct if it'd have been in the past tense. And, there's no (F)! I created it because there is no 'singing' option. :) – Maulik V Oct 16 '15 at 9:58
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    I read your comment and think that F is also possible. In this structure, the tense of the bare infinitive does not need to be changed, only the main verb is needed to. – Chu Wa Tim Tim Oct 16 '15 at 10:04
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    This is very informative, but why should someone listen to another who is listening other's singing? – Chu Wa Tim Tim Oct 16 '15 at 10:34
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As a native English speaker from the UK, (C) and (E) are grammatically correct, although they have different meanings. The difference is in who is doing the singing.

(C) Listen to her being sung the song and then tell us what you think of it.

Someone else is singing the song to "her", you should listen and then say what you think. This is grammatically correct but the form seems unusual, you would normally put more emphasis on the person doing the singing than the person being sung to. A more likely sentence using this form might be

Watch her being sung the song and then tell us what you think

This suggests that someone (perhaps an admirer?) is singing her a song, and the important thing is to observe her reaction (does she like him back?)

(E) Listen to her sing the song and then tell us what you think of it.

"she" is about to sing the song (or there is a recording). You should listen to her sing and then give your opinion. If it is suggested that only one is correct, I'd go for this one as the most likely.

Even as a native speaker it took me a few minutes to realise that (C) is a correct form, whereas (E) is the answer I would have picked without thinking

The proposed option (F) singing is also correct and, at least colloquially, means the same as (E).

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