The five verbs of the senses are HEAR… smell… FEEL… taste… SEE…

1. Although they are often used to describe actions that occur at the moment of speaking they are rarely used in a continuous form or in the present simple (like Spanish – ‘no veo’.)

Instead, the most common way to talk about sensory experience is with ‘can’.

I can’t hear you… speak louder, please. (We do not say “I’m not hearing you” or “I don’t hear you.”)

I can taste a strange flavour in this soup.

2. However, there is a slightly different sense of ‘hear’ and ‘see’ which is commonly used in the continuous when talking about hearing rumours/news and seeing someone socially/profesionally.

I’ve been hearing some very strange stories about your brother.

I’m seeing a girl from colombia at the moment.

3. You can use the following construction to indicate that you saw or heard a complete action: hear/see + object + infinitive.

I heard Adelle sing at the concert.

However, you use a gerund if you didn’t see a whole action but only part of one or one in progress or incidentally. hear/see + object + gerund.

As I walked past the house, I heard Adelle playing on the radio.

These rules also apply the the following verbs: feel… watch… notice… listen… feel.

4. When we talk about an impression or opinion that derives from the senses, we use the following verbs: taste, sound, smell, feel.

We can use these verbs with an adjective.

  • You smell good.

We can use these verbs with ‘like + noun.’

  • You smell like a pig.

We can use them with as if / as though

  • He looked as if he’d been drinking all day.

Pat attention to the different words ‘like’ and ‘of’.’

  • It tastes like curry (similar to)
  • It tastes of curry. (it contains curry.)

5. What’s the difference between ‘seem’ and ‘look’? Both are used to convey an impression caused but while ‘look’ is purely based on visual or obvious information, ‘seem’ results from other, less obvious signs.

You look red. Have you been out in the sun?

You seem worried: what’s the problem? 


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