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Difference Between Look, See and Watch

The difference between "look", "see" and "watch"

You're here to learn the differences between look, see, and watch as they describe what we do with our eyes. I can help. Although the differences are related to your actions and attention.


Difference between "look", "see" and "watch"


It's easy to learn how to use them if you read this lesson over and over again. Let's take a look at these words in context:


1. How to use "look"?

Look is used to get attention and to see what's there. Examples:

  •  Look at the board, please.
  •  You can look up the words in the dictionary.

2. How to use "see"?

See is used as a personal impression that comes to the eyes or an understanding of something. Examples:

  • Can you see the blue car over there?
  • I see what you mean.

3. How to use "watch"?

Watch is used to look at or observe attentively over a period of time, or like to look at something. Examples:

  •  He watches TV in the evenings.
  • It'll be interesting to watch developments.


Difference between "look", "see" and "watch" with errors


1. When there is an object, we use "at" after "look":

  • If you go for a walk by the river, you can look at the beautiful scenery. (… you can look the beautiful scenery.)

2. We don’t use "watch" to talk about things that we see without trying:

  • If you go to the forest, you might see some deer. (… you might watch some deer.)

3. We don’t use "watch" when referring to a film in the cinema:

  • A: We’re going to the cinema tonight.
  • B: What are you going to see? (What are you going to watch?)
  • A: I’m not sure. I really want to see the new Rocky movie but Nancy said she’s not interested in that. (I really want to watch the new Rocky movie …)
4. We use "watch", not "see", when we refer to something on the television:
  • At night, I like to watch the television. (…I like to see the television.)

 See: The Difference Between Borrow and Lend



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