CAE :: Lesson 18

LOS CURSOS DE INGLES GRATIS PREFERIDOS POR LOS HISPANOHABLANTES

 

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Use of English

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Sense verbs

 

 

 

Let us study the verbs of the senses...

1. HEAR, SEE, SMELL, FEEL, TASTE

The five basic sense verbs, hear, see, smell, feel, and taste are stative (non action) verbs. We normally use can with these verbs to refer to something happening at the moment.

We don't usually use sense verbs in the continuous form NOT  I am hearing a noise. I am feeling a pain behind my eye .

Hear and see can also be dynamic verbs and used in the continuous form, but with a different meaning. Pay attention to these examples:
I've been hearing good things about you recently. = I have been receiving information. I'm seeing James tonight. = I have arranged to meet him.

1.

I can hear a noise downstairs.

2.

Can you see the blue circle at the top of the painting?

3.

I can smell burning. Are you sure you turned the gas off?

4.

I can feel a draught. Is there a window open?

5.

I can't taste the garlic in the soup.

2. SEE / HEAR + infinitive or gerund

We often use see / hear + an object + verb in the infinitive or gerund. The meaning is slightly different:

a) see / hear + object + verb in infinitive = you saw or heard the whole action.
b) see / hear + object + verb in gerund = you saw / heard an action in progress or a repeated action.

The same distinction also applies to verbs after watch and notice.

1.

a) I heard the girl play a piece by Chopin.

 

b) I saw the man hit his dog.

2.

a) I heard the girl playing a piece by Chopin.

 

b) I saw the man hitting his dog.

3. LOOK, FEEL, SMELL, SOUND, TASTE + adjective / noun

When we talk about the impression something or someone gives us through the senses, we use look, feel, smell, sound, and taste.

After these verbs we can use an adjective:

1.

You look tired. That smells delicious. This music sounds awful.
These shoes feel uncomfortable. The soup tastes a bit salty.

After these verbs we can use like + a noun.:

2.

You look like your mother. It sounds like thunder.
This tastes like tea, not coffee.

After these verbs we can use as if / as though + a clause:

3.

She looked as if / as though she had been crying.
It sounds as if / as though someone is trying to open the door.

Compare smell / taste of and smell / taste like.
It tastes / smells of garlic (= it has the taste / smell of garlic).
It tastes / smells like garlic (= it has a similar taste / smell to garlic...
but it probably isn't garlic).

4.

This smells / tastes of garlic. This smells / tastes like garlic.

4. SEEM

IMPORTANT: The verb seem is NOT used in the continuous form.

We use seem when something / somebody gives us an impression of being or doing something through a combination of the senses and what we know, but not purely through one sense, e.g. the visual sense.

Now compare seem and look:

You look worried. = I get this impression from your face.
You seem worried. = I get this impression from the way you are behaving in general, e.g. voice, actions, etc.

After seem we can use an adjective:

1.

You seem worried. Is something wrong?

After seem we can use an infinitive (simple or perfect or continuous):

2.

You seem to be a bit down today. Are you OK?
The waiter seems to have made a mistake with the bill.

After seem we can use like + noun or as if / as though + a verb phrase:

3.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in fact it wasn't.
It seems as if / as though every time I clean the car it rains.

IMPORTANT: Learn more about DYNAMIC AND STATIVE VERBS.

On the next page you will be able to practise this grammar.

 
 

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