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Confusing Words for English Language Students: Look (at), Watch and See

Updated on January 21, 2016

Look, Watch and See

These three verbs are common mistakes in my classroom as they are all relate to sight.

See - This is when images or things are 'coming to your eyes', usually without trying.

"I can see the Eiffel tower" or "I saw a dog on the street"

You can also ask "Have you seen the film Iron Man?" as you are referring to the event of the film coming to your eyes.

Look (at): To look is when you are trying to see something so you are making an effort to see or you are trying to concentrate on something.

Usually it is followed by the preposition 'at' to highlight what you are looking at.

"Can you see the Eiffel Tower?" "Yes, I am looking at it now"

The first person is asking if the second person is able to see (has the ability or opportunity to see the Eiffel Tower) while the second is telling the first that they are looking at it and concentrating on the image/sight.

Watch: This is when you are looking at something for an extended period of time or you are 'looking at' an action such as a film or somebody doing something.

"I can't come out right now as I am watching a film"


"I am watching my dog chase it's tail"

Further Information

I hope this has been useful. You can find more of my idioms and help with commonly confused words on my blog:


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    • Prithima Sharma profile image

      Prithima Sharma 4 years ago from Delhi, India

      informative, thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      huda 4 years ago

      is this right ?....." as I watching a film"