See Look Watch – What’s the difference?

September 20, 2018 - Priscila Pereira

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See Look Watch – What’s the difference?

Hey, friends! How are things?

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These 3 verbs are used in specific situations. Consequently, many students confuse when to use see, look and watch. Let’s take a look at them individually.


Watch is very similar to “look at”. However, when you “watch something” it usually means to look at something for a period of time, especially something that is moving or changing, like a movie or tv show

My friends watch tv every evening.

I love watching the birds flying in my Garden. They are so beautiful

I like to sit by the river and watch nature!

Did you watch the game last night?

“Watch” can also have a different meaning.  One possible different meaning is to keep guard, to keep someone or something under observation.

Hey, I need to go to the bank real quick, can you watch the kids?


Basically, the verb “see” means to notice something using your eyes (the ability).

Have you seen my glasses? I can’t find them!

Can you turn on the lights? I can’t see anything!

Did you see that? It was a beautiful Ferrari!

The verb “see” is not commonly used in the continuous form (seeing). Instead, if you want to say you see something at the moment you are speaking, use “can see”

I can see the remote control, which button should I push?

A very different use of the verb “see” in spoken language is to mean you “understand”. So when someone tells you something and you want to respond that you understand it in an informal way, you can say:  I see.

Hey, I am sorry, but I won’t be able to make it for dinner. Oh, I see. Maybe next time!

See can also be used with the idea of visiting/meeting or coming into contact with someone.

For example

Have you seen Tommy lately? (have you come into contact with Tommy, lately?)

I went to see my parents last week (to visit)

Seeing – Continuous Form

The verb “see” can be used in the continuous form when you want to talk about an arrangement to meet someone in the near future.

I am seeing my friends tonight (I am meeting my friends tonight)

You also use “seeing” to talk abouta relationship, someone you are going out with.

I invited Sarah on a date, but she told me she was already seeing someone. (she was already going out with someone else)


We use the verb look to express turning our eyes in a particular direction to see something. This verb is usually used with the preposition At.

Look at me when I talk to you!

Don’t look now, I am not ready yet!

Look! There is a huge spider on the wall!

Peter is looking at you.

When you are at a store and a salesperson comes to offer you help but you don’t wanna buy anything, you can say:

I am just looking

“Look” as a Discourse Marker

In Spoken language, “look” can be used as a discourse marker, before you start explaining something or sharing your opinion. Please keep in mind you need to watch your intonation. If you say “look” very angrily or strongly, you will sound rude.

Look, Andrew, you need to improve your numbers next month, ok?


Watch X See


We usually use “see” when we are tlaking about sports events or public performances (shows,  films,  drama, theater).

I saw The Lion King last night. It was beautiful  (you were at a theater, or movie theater)

I watched the Lord of the rings last night (you were at home, watching the movie on Tv)

When you are watching something for a long time, you use “watch”

I watched the penguins move around the water park (here I am focusing on the process of seeing, you spent some time watching the penguins)

I saw the penguins move around the water park (here I am focusing on the finished event. You didn’t spend much time “watching” it though.)


There you go! Now, how about some exercises! Complete with the right verb (Use the right conjugation):

  1. I am sorry, Christine, but I won’t be able to meet you tonight. Oh, I _______
  2. Did you ____ what happened on the 10th floor? There was a big fight between two employees
  3. Can you ____ the kids while I pick up Jamie at the airport?
  4. Can you ______ at these files and give me your feedback?
  5. Lucy spent all morning ________ the hummingbirds in the Yard.
  6. Excuse me, sir, Can I help you with anything? No, Thanks I am just __________
  7. What are you doing this weekend? I will probably stay home and ______ Netflix.
  8. Did you ____ the new ballet show in town? It is stunning!
  9. Have you ____ Jane this week?
  10. Kim is the living room _____ TV


I hope to see your answers here in the comments


Have a wonderful day!


Teacher Prix

Priscila Pereira

Starbucks and TV Series lover: juggling with teaching, blogging, and a YouTube life! I’m teacher Prix and I want to help you talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime in English! This blog is for English speakers who are looking for an effective blog. Get inspired by hundreds of different posts for all English levels, so that you can finally learn English easily and effectively on the internet.

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