See vs watch vs look

Hello! I’m Sam from BBC Learning English and in this episode, we’re going to look at the differences between ‘see’, ‘watch’ and ‘look’. All three are verbs and all three involve using your eyes. ‘See’ can have many non-literal meanings, but its basic meaning is ‘to have the ability to use your eyes’. I can’t see anything! Or it can mean ‘to notice something with your eyes’. Did you see the full moon last night? It was huge! To ‘look’ means ‘to turn your eyes towards something so that you can see it’. They said that if I look carefully at the painting, I can see a flower. And ‘watch’ is to ‘look at something for a period of time’ – really looking carefully. Right now, you are watching this video and paying very close attention, I’m sure.

32 Replies to “See vs watch vs look”

  1. Hi everyone! The correct order is:
    1.(b) was watching (My eyes were on the television for the a period of time, really paying attention)
    2.(a) saw (I noticed something with my eyes)
    3.(c) looked (I turned my eyes towards the window)
    You'll find a summary and more quizzes here:

  2. Further to this explanation, “ watch “ & “ look” are within our control, will, or intentions , whereas “ see” isn’t . “See” is rather imposed on our sight. Agree ?

  3. Really great explanation. I hear students make mistakes with these words all the time, and it can be kind of difficult to explain the specific differences. Thanks so much for this!

  4. Hello, Sam! 🙂
    Nice details to know about these words. I feel much more confident speaking English now!
    Thank you. 🙂

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