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To Watch, To Look At and To See - What are the differences?

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  • To Watch, To Look At and To See - What are the differences?

    These are three very similar constructions that involve using your eyes. However, their meanings are slightly different.

    Let's examine this more closely...


    To Watch

    If you watch something, you are actively paying attention to it and you monitor the situation as it changes. You would "watch a television show" or "watch a movie" to make sure that you don't miss a moment.

    Examples

    "What shall we watch on television?"

    "You need to behave yourself, I'm watching you."

    "Can you watch my dog for a couple of hours? I need to go out."



    To Look At

    If you are looking at something, you have your eyes focussed in the direction of someone or something. You might also call someone's attention to something by saying, "Hey, look at that!"

    Examples

    "I am looking at the house over there."

    "She is looking at you!"

    "Quick! Look at the sky!"



    To See

    To see something is a very general term for noticing something with your eyes. It can be active or passive and it simply means that your eyes were used. You can
    watch something or look at something in order to see it clearly.

    Examples

    "I can see the sun going down."

    "I went to see my friend yesterday."

    "Do you want to go and see a film?"



    It may seem annoying, but these are all very different and should be used according to context. Try to practice them often!

  • #2
    For me, as Spanish native, is confusing. I'd say that to watch is more or less mirar, and to see is more or less ver, but we also have look... And, although there are other verbs involving the use of the eyes (observar, vigilar, things like that), the uses are not evident. For example, you watch TV nd see a film?
    As you say, practice and context are the key, I suppose.
    www.lingostan.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Victor Zamorano View Post
      For me, as Spanish native, is confusing. I'd say that to watch is more or less mirar, and to see is more or less ver, but we also have look... And, although there are other verbs involving the use of the eyes (observar, vigilar, things like that), the uses are not evident. For example, you watch TV nd see a film?
      As you say, practice and context are the key, I suppose.
      Exactly right Victor, as you know with your native tongue, sometimes it just comes down to context and applying the rules if possible.

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      • #4
        We'll keep trying...
        www.lingostan.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, as so often, context is king. "I'm going to see a film" or "I'm going to watch a film". But never "I'm going to see TV". And "I was watching a film" or "I was watching TV" - never "I was seeing" either.

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