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What's the difference between 'look', 'see' & 'watch'?

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'Look', 'see' and 'watch' can easily confuse students of English as they all relate to actions done with our eyes. The difference between the three verbs can be explained in the following way...see if you can undertand!

Look - to look at something for a reason, with an intention.

 ‘Look at that strange man.’
‘Look at the pictures I took on holiday.’

See -to ‘see’ something that comes into our sight that we weren’t looking for.

 ‘Did you see that bird? – I wasn’t looking for it,  it just appeared.
‘I saw you driving to work today.’

Watch - to look at something carefully, usually at something which is moving.

 ‘Watch TV’- the TV doesn’t move, but you watch the moving images carefully.
‘Watch here you are going! You almost stepped on my foot!’



see vs look

Hi Chris,

I have my own private rule how to explain the difference between see and look: Seeing is the effect of looking.

For instance:
If you want to see something you must look at it.

It differs a bit from your explanation of "to see" as you say that we see something only when it comes into our sight by chance.

What do you think?

thanks in advance for your answer.


'I just' unnecessary

‘Did you see that bird? – I wasn’t looking for it, (I just) it just appeared.

where is exercise?

Nice lesson! Thanks. But where is exercise? Batting Eyelashes

watch and look

We watch a match or look at it? plz reply fast

Look versus See

Please explain the quote, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."