Self-study: Look, Watch and See
Do you watch television, look at television, or see television?
What about a picture? Or a football match?
The answer is: you watch television, look at or see a picture and watch or see a football match.
Were you sure of the right answers or do you sometimes get these words confused?
See is a passive verb. It is something physical that happens when your eyes are open, but you do not have to make an effort at it. It just happens. For example:
- I saw Andy downtown yesterday.
Look is an active verb. If you look at something, it is because you want to. Looking at something means that it is constant or stationary (not moving). Look requires a preposition when used in a sentence (at, for, after, up, down, over, etc.) You can also look at a book, a museum exhibit and the sky. For example:
- Mom, look at this picture I drew for you!
- Look over there – it’s Dave!
- We have to look after the children this morning.
- I’m looking for my keys
Watch is an active verb, too. If you watch something, it is because you want to. Watching something implies that you look at it very intensely, because it is moving or changing. You can watch a play, a fight and a parade for example.
- Let’s watch a movie tonight.
And here is an example of all three:
- Look over there – you can see the Alps! Do you want to stay here and watch the sunset? I’m sure it will be beautiful from here.
Now try this quiz: