When looking at phrases in the form of "verb - pronoun - participle":

  • Увидел его гуляющим
  • Застал его пьющим
  • Представил его улыбающимся

We use some verbs of perception, but not others. For example we don't use the verb "hear" (слышать/услышать) We can say:

  • Я слышал её
  • Я слышал её голос

    But not

  • Я слышал её разговаривавшей / шептавшей / болтавшей

Does there exist some anti-pattern in the language to not use the verb "hear", and possibly other verbs in such phrases?

  • Застать and представить are as fundamentally visual as увидеть. I'd say it's just that particular mode of perception. Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 21:01
  • это ооочень неблагодарное дело пытаться объяснить, почему какой-то конструкции не существует в языке - но наблюдение хорошее
    – shabunc
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 21:41
  • 3
    You can use it, there's nothing wrong with it. A bit unusual though.
    – Abakan
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 10:22
  • 2
    @Abakan a bit unusual is an underestimation though )
    – shabunc
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 19:27
  • 1
    @shabunc Well, Я слышал её поющей is totally okay.
    – Abakan
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 19:30

3 Answers 3


It is totally grammatical and correct to say so, but in modern language you usually would say "я слышал, как она говорила...". I think there is some nuance here.

Consider the following setting. She is the factory manager. Now consider the phrases:

Я видел её говорившей с рабочими.

Я видел, как она говорила с рабочими.

Both can mean the same, you saw her talking to the workers. But the second one can also mean you saw how she was talking to the workers. Her manners, mimic, tone. If you want exclude this, you use the first one. It is momentary: this can mean you say her face was red, but you cannot say anything about time-prolonged details.

Now what about слышал instead of видел? Well, the same,

Я слышал её говорившей с рабочими.

means you heard some short moment of their conversation, by chance, like through a wall or by hearing their telephone call accidentally, but you cannot say in what manner and how she was speaking.

One more to note. Я слышал её говорившей can mean either once or several times, while я слышал, как она говорила can imply either only one (without referring to the manners) or referring to the manners (then likely not once).

  • I completely agree, that phrases with как are more common / natural.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 15:30
  • It is totally grammatical and correct to say so... I'm willing to accept that my assumption is wrong, but I'm puzzled why my search on ruscorpora shows no examples of someone using such a phrase.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 15:44
  • @Vitaly because you usually do not momentary hear somebody talkig. Try searching "я видел её говорившей"
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 16:07
  • 1
    Indeed such phrase is used, albeit infrequently. After more digging in ruscorpora I found: Она никогда не слышала его разговаривающим с нею таким образом. [Н. Э. Гейнце. "Аракчеев" (1898)] Но она еще не слыхала меня говорящим... [Н. И. Махно. Воспоминания (1929)] До тех пор я почти никогда не слыхал ее поющую... [Ф. М. Достоевский. Дневник писателя. (1876)] This answer is accepted, because of a comment "but in modern language you usually would say..." References that I found are somewhat old. +1 to everyone who said that such phrase is valid.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 18:37
  • The last paragraph describes it all.
    – avp
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 12:59

Я слышал её говорившей о [чём-либо] sounds totally okay to my ear.

If, for example, you happened to catch a speech on some topic.

I think the weirdness comes from слышал and говорившей, which are both about sounds and therefore redundant. Maybe the better one would be:

Я видел её говорившей о [чём-либо]

  • alamar, Thank you for you response. However, when I search on Google. I get a response "No results found for "Я слышал её говорившей о" " Could you please provide a supporting reference from National Corpus, or another source.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 14:51
  • 1
    More natural would be "я слышал, как она говорила..."
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 15:03
  • @alamar, I think you could be right about the cause of the weirdness. Both verbs are about sounds. Я видел его смотрящим sounds equally strange.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 15:17
  • 1
    @Vitaly google has results on слышал его говорившим and видел её говорившей.
    – alamar
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 9:11
  • @alamar Interestingly, Google search results for слышал его говорившим are using the phrase with negation. Just like ruscorpora examples.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 13:06

Я видел её describes direct perception of 'her', not derived from the idea 'I watched the vision of her' (я видел её изображение).

Я слышал её голос (or как она говорит/говорила) directly describes just sound perception, while я слышал её is an idiomatic transformation of it (голос -> она). So it is less flexible at building participle constructions of the type used not too often. Maybe that is the reason why the phrase in question sounds a bit unnatural. I don't think it's because of the mentioned redundancy of слышал+говорящей, since both versions of

Я слышал/видел, как она говорит(-ла) по телефону.

(having different meaning) sound equally normal to me.

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