Look, see and watch

English Tip : Look, See & Watch

Look, see and watch


LOOK, SEE and WATCH are verbs that we use to talk about our sense of sight using our eyes. But they have important differences in meaning.


SEE is an inactive word. When your eyes are open, you do it without thinking.


  1. I opened the curtains and SAW some birds outside.
  2. Did you SEE that old man?
  3. I SAW you driving to work today.
  4. Didn’t you SEE Mark? He was waving at you.


LOOK AT?is an active word. You must want to do it. But it is for a short time.


  1. LOOK at this dress.
  2. Please LOOK at the clock and tell me what time it is.
  3. I want to LOOK at that sweater again. Maybe I will buy it.
  4. This morning I LOOKED at the newspaper.



WATCH?is also an active word. You must want to do it but it is for a longer period of time.


  1. Let’s WATCH television.
  2. I like to go to the zoo and WATCH the animals.
  3. Do you want to WATCH a movie with me tonight?
  4. I can’t let anyone WATCH what I am doing!




Both?WATCH ?and?SEE?can be used to talk about films and TV programs.

EXAMPLE:? We?watched/saw?a great film yesterday.

Remember, ‘see’ ? you didn’t really intend to, it just happened; ‘look’ ? you intended to do it; and ‘watch’ you intended to do it and you were looking intensely, usually because it was moving.




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