See, Look, Watch - English Conversation Lesson

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In this lesson we will learn the difference between similar words: ‘see’, ‘look’ and ‘watch’.


The word ‘see’ is used when something comes to our notice with or without our effort.

Carla: See is used to say that ‘I noticed’. When something is visible to us. For example: I see a bird. Did you see how it was flying?

Max: Yes. We do not have to pay attention when we see things. We can see things when we open our eyes.

Carla: That is right Max. In English we sometimes use the word ‘see’ to mean understand. For example: ‘Now I see how the machine works’.

Max: Oh I see that! Here is another example: I can see that his memory is really bad.

Carla: Good Max, would you like to see some more examples?

Max: I think this will be good for now. Let’s have a conversation.


Paul: Did you see the posters while coming to office today?

Carol: Yeah! I saw some people putting them up.

Paul: Mr. Smith is running for councillor.

Carol: Oh I see. He is a good man. Let’s see if he wins.


‘Look’ means to make an effort to see something. When we look at something we need to pay some attention.

Carla: To look at something means we are seeing it with our intention. It means our sight is directed towards something.

Max: Yes Carla, look at the difference carefully. We need give an effort to look, but not to see. For example: When I look at the flowers I remember spring. Here I am looking at the flower on purpose.

Carla: I see that! Look also means to search for. For example: If you don’t see the papers on the table, look in the drawer.

Max: Right! Look may also mean a certain condition. For example: The child looks happy today. I understand from his look that he is happy. He looks different from the picture.

Carla: Looking normally refers to something which is not changing. For example: Look at the mirror. Look at the tree. Look at everything around you.

Max: Correct Carla. Let’s have a conversation now.


Carol: Look at Tim, Paul. He looks so cute!

Paul: I like his looks when he eats something.

Carol: I think he is looking for something to eat again.

Paul: If he keeps eating all the time, he will look like a Sumo wrestler.


To ‘watch’ means looking at something for some time. To watch something you must see it for sometime.

Paul: To ‘watch’ something we need concentration. Watching something means we are looking at it for some time intentionally. For example: Watch the dog, it might bite.

Carol: That is right Paul. Watching normally suggests looking at something which is changing. For example: Watching a movie.

Paul: To watch means also to guard something. For example: The watchman watches the building. My mother told me to watch my younger brother for some time.

Carol: Paul, can you give me a sentence that has all these words together?

Paul: Yes, sure! Look at how the child is watching the cartoon show so carefully, as if he won’t get to see it again!

Carol: Thank you Paul. I think now the difference between see, look and watch is clear to me.


Carla: Max, would you watch my dog for some time?

Max: Why don’t you take it with you?

Carla: I’m off to watch a movie.

Max: I can’t it watch it the whole day. I have plans.

Carla: I’ll be back before 12. Will you please keep it with you till then?

Max: Alright then, but don’t be late.

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