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Common Error: Confusing "See," "Look," and "Watch"

Just in time to spread Christmas cheer, I bring you the next in our series of Common Errors! Today we’ll be looking at ways to correctly and clearly use the words “see,” “look (at),” and “watch.”

Common Error: Confusing “see,” “look (at),” and “watch”
DON’T say this: See! There’s a giant snake over there!
Let’s go to the mall and look a movie.
I like to see the show “Smallville”
WHY? This is a difficult problem because the differences between these words are subtle:

-“See” means to perceive something by using your eyes (vision). You don’t plan to see, you just do it naturally or spontaneously.

-When you look at something, you generally move your eyes to see it. This is an action that you plan to do, and you look at something for a reason. Both “look” and “see” could be used as interjections, but “look” is much more common.

-The word “watch” is similar to “look (at),” but it generally indicates a longer period of time. If you watch, you are carefully or continuously observing something. Things that you watch are generally moving.

INSTEAD, SAY THIS: -“I was watching the soccer game, but when the lights went out in the stadium, it was too dark to see anything.”
-“Look, I’m sorry, but I just need to tell you this directly. Your presentation sucked.”
-“You see, I disagree. His presentation wasn’t that bad.”
Look! It’s a Blue Grey Tanager! Those birds are beautiful!”
“Do you want to go to the mall with me to see/watch a movie?”
“I want to exchange my Dollars for Euros, so I’ve been watching the currency exchange rate closely.
That’s it for today. If you have comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!
Good luck, and Merry Christmas!
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