[quote=“Byshguy”]They mean the same thing. Even for a native speaker, the difference is largely contextual. Attempting to explain the difference to a kid who doesn’t speak English is pointless and virtually impossible. What the other teacher told him is…not so much right as it is just an attempt to make it understandable. If you saw someone tell part of a story, you would say “I saw him tell part of a story”.
If you really want to get into it with the student, you would need to explain that the individual sentences are virtually indistinguishable. However, when the sentences are part of a larger paragraph, then the difference becomes important. ie
I saw him tell a story, while he was visiting Taiwan.
I saw him telling a story when he visited Taiwan.
The more you expand the idea, the more the grammar tenses become important to the concept you are trying to get across.
Hope that’s been a help.[/quote]
It’s not helpful at all. He isn’t discussing tense he is discussing aspect. Tense refers to when an action occurs and aspect refers to whether the action is repeated, continuing or completed. In both examples the sentences are in the past tense but in the second one the person describing the action chooses to focus on the continuous aspect of the action occuring in the object clause. They don’t “mean the same thing.” They might very well describe the same event but they don’t “mean the same thing.” Either sentence could describe an event in which the entire story was told but if the entire story were told and there was no reason to focus on the continuous aspect of the noun clause it would be correct to choose the simpler form.
I looked again at where you were wrong again and had to conclude it was everywhere but here…
That part was correct but you might have pointed out that it didn’t make the sentences more understandable. What it did was cause a misunderstanding of the second sentence.
For sure most of what people say about language is pure nonsense. People can use language so they think they can describe it. (Most can’t and the ones who can generally don’t.)
What happens then is that students sit and listen to people making mistakes when they talk about language using concepts that are so comlicated that even if correct would be of no value. They frequently also do this in the wrong language. I sat last week and listened to a woman contradict in Chinese a simple and very useful grammar pattern what I was trying to demonstrate. She sat there in my class lecturing in Chinese and got everything precisely wrong. Unfortunately or not for her I learned chinese by learning to explain English grammar in Chinese.
It was a good way to learn Chinese and a really lousy way to teach English.
Hope that helps.