It can be difficult to learn English when you are a foreigner. The language is full of nuances and subtleties that make it hard for even native speakers to understand. This article will help with one such nuance – the difference between “look at,” “watch” and “see.”
These words might seem like they are alike, or even the same, but when learning English it is important to understand that they are actually not!
Here is a short guide to understand the meaning of each word:
- “See” means to notice or become aware of someone or something by using your eyes.
- “Look” means to direct your eyes in a particular direction.
- “Watch” means to look at someone or something for an amount of time and pay attention to what is happening
You watch TV. You don’t “look at” the TV or “see” it because you are actually looking directly at it and focusing on what is happening in front of you. You are paying attention to it!
The same goes for movies, you watch them and keep your eyes on the screen.
If you are looking at something, it means that you have noticed it but don’t intend to stay focused or pay attention to what is happening.
You might observe a painting in an art gallery for example, but not actually “watch” it because you will move away from the painting at some point, and pay attention to other things in the gallery. A game, for example, like football, is also something you watch!
If you are looking at something like a TV or computer screen, it means that although your eyes will be on it and you might watch what is happening for some time, they won’t stay focused there forever-you can move away from the screen without actually being “watching” it!
The verb “look” is different from “watch.” When you look at someone or something, you simply direct your eyes at that person or thing. It can be for a short time, and it might not involve much thought.
One other difference between the words “watch” and “look” is that “look” is often followed by an adverb or preposition:
When you dance, don’t look down.
She looked at the bill before she paid it.
Seeing something, on the other hand, is whatever your eyes can be noticing: “I see a cat in the window”.
Hope this easy guide was helpful to understand the difference between these three words, and it can be easier for you to use them!
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