'It's quite common to hear a programmer say' : subjunctive?


It is quite common to hear a programmer say, “…”

(Text written by an American, if for some reasons it’s important to be mentioned.)

To me, it should be ‘says’.
Just a typo?
Or is this a case of the Subjunctive form?

Please, destroy my doubts :slight_smile:

Hi Tamara,

In your sentence I would say that say is the infinitive after hear. It’s similar to this:

I saw you walk in the park.

I heard the birds sing in the trees.


Good morning II, Tamara :smiley:

I’d say “say” is simply a bare infinitive.

It is quite common to hear a programmer say…” = “It is quite common to hear him say,…

You cannot say “him says” 8)

  • hear him say something
  • see him do something
  • hear himself think

You can also use an -ing form sometimes in this sort of construction.


Good morning Amy, good morning, Amy :slight_smile:
Good morning Alan :slight_smile:

A bare infinitive…

Sorry for my stupid question… :oops:

There are no stupid questions, Tamara. :smiley:

It’s also interesting to take a look at the differences between the infinitive and the gerund in these constructions:

I heard him speak.
I saw him walking down the street.

TOEIC listening, photographs: A van in an African street[YSaerTTEW443543]

Yes, Amy, and ‘there are no bad pupils, …’, of course :slight_smile: :lol:

But there is (also :)) the old saying:
“Just one fool can ask so many stupid questions that a thousand of wise men won’t be able to answer”.
(Sorry for my poor translation.)

Quite interesting, indeed! This is the kind of question that analytical students fancy (you know the sort I mean – the ‘vivisectionists’, bless them!) – and usually throw at you when your mind isn’t at its usual peak of sharpness ( 8) ). So now, thanks to your comment, Torsten, I’ll hopefully be ready for this one.

To me, ‘I saw him + ing’ means that I saw him while he was in the process of doing something (but I didn’t see the whole process). ‘I saw him + infinitive’ means I saw the whole action. Further comments would be greatly appreciated, though (especially as I fear there’s more to it than just that)!

:idea: We could compile a list of tricky questions that would help us deal with the more fastidious* students!

  • Another false friend (or is it?): if you are ‘fastidioso’ in Spanish, you are ‘a pain in the neck’!!


I’d agree with you with regard to the difference between using the infinitve and the ing-form, Conchita.

“I saw him doing it” doesn’t necessarily mean that I witnessed what he did from beginning to end.
But saying “I saw him do it” indicates that I witnessed a complete act.


Hi, Amy, here is coming another "stupid "student! :oops: :stuck_out_tongue: :lol:
“hear himself think” ______mmmm, it sounds a bit strange to me, why not say “hear myself/himself thinking”? :roll: ,


Hi FangFang

That one’s a bit idiomatic. :wink:

He told me that the neighbor’s party had been so loud he couldn’t hear himself think.

can’t hear oneself think


1-I was sorry to see you work/ sleep like that.
2-I was sorry to see you working/ sleeping like that.

Amy, how can one see complete act of sleeping? Could you please shed some more light on this usage?


That’s neither my sentence nor my choice of words, Tom. :?

1-I was sorry to see you work like that. --> This sounds as though someone had to work very hard and the work is now finished. It implies that I witnessed all of whatever work is being referred to. How long the work lasted is not known. It could have been a matter of minutes, or it could have been much longer.

2 -I was sorry to see you working like that. --> This suggests that I only witnessed part of the work and it adds a sense of duration to the work.