It amazes me how often people make the wrong selection of saw or seen. Each word is a form of the verb ‘see.’ But each plays a different role.
Growing up in the south, I constantly heard people get confused over saw or seen. I still hear it. Often.
You’d think I’d become used to it by now. You might even think I learned to ignore it.
Just the other day, I saw a promo on the cable network Investigation Discovery about an episode of a true-crime show. The commercial featured a woman whose relative was a crime victim. She told the story of the last time she spoke with her relative.
“That was the last time I seen her,” she said…(or something to that effect).
I cringe every time I hear that spot. She meant to say “the last time I saw her.”
Yes, the verb see is an irregular verb because it takes unusual forms when you conjugate it. But the verb see is such a simple word that you’d think there would be no such common confusion.
The present tense of see is see.
I see the mailman coming this way.
The past tense is saw.
Sherry saw the woman shortly before she vanished.
The detective saw potential evidence at the scene.
Then we come to the past participle form. That’s the form of a verb we use when we add a helping verb. The past participle form of see is seen.
The woman was seen driving off.
The last time Sherry saw the victim, she seemed fine.
The last time the victim was seen by Sherry, all seemed well.
Yes, our English language is always evolving. But the use of the wrong form of a verb is not a valid example of such evolution. It’s an example of an undereducated speaker misusing the language.
It bothers some people far less than it bothers others. That’s true of any mistake.