What’s the difference between the verbs, LOOK, SEE and WATCH?


The verb ‘see’ is the basic function of eyes. When our eyes are open, we see things around us whether we want or not. It is the ability (to perceive things with our eyes).
I don’t see very well without my glasses.
I saw a new boy at school today.

Remember that when we use the verb SEE like this, it cannot be used in the Progressive or Continuous Tenses because it is a STATIVE VERB.


Use LOOK (at) when you want to say pay attention to something or concentrate on something.
LOOK! There’s a plane in the sky.
Children, please look at page 31 of your books.

Note that LOOK is followed by the preposition AT if it is followed by an object.
Look at that man.

Compare the use of SEE and LOOK in the following sentences:
I looked at all the dresses in the shop but I didn’t see anything that I liked.
I’m looking at our class photo but I can’t see myself in the picture.


Use the verb WATCH for actions, activities or movement.
I watched the football match on T.V. last night.
Watch the children carefully, please. They don’t know how to swim very well.

Look, See, Watch Exercise
Instructions: Choose the best verb to complete the gap in the exercise.

Exercise: Look, See or Watch (pdf)

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