See / Look at / Watch

If you don’t know the difference between the verbs: SEE, LOOK AT and WATCH, here is a simple explanation about when and how to use them.


Difference between see, look at watch

  • You SEE naturally, without thinking about it.

Can you see that sign?

I see a man walking down the street.


  • You LOOK AT something because you focus and concentrate on that.

Look at the sky. The storm is coming.

I love this picture. I can look at it all day.


  • You WATCH something in action or moving.

Did you watch the game last night?

The teacher is watching the children running in the park.

Now, look at the cartoon below and choose the right verb to complete the story. (You will find the answers at the bottom of this page.)

I was at a party a few days ago and I realized that some guys will do anything to get a date. The party was a bit boring, and I thought I could just go home, nobody will miss me anyway. But just as I was finishing my champagne and getting ready to leave, a young man came up to me.

„Hello!“, he said. „I watched/saw (1) you on the balcony a few minutes ago, but you were in the middle of a conversation with someone and I didn’t want to interrupt. I must say that you are very elegant and beautiful tonight. Would you like another drink?“

„Oh, thank you so much“, I replied, „I’m fine. I don’t drink much alcohol.“

So we started chatting about the party, about the music we like and films that we like looking at/watching (2). I was very optimistic as he seemed like a really nice person. In one moment I asked him: „Are you married?“, and he said „No.“ But you know how girls pay attention to every little detail, so when I looked at/watched (3) his hand I looked/saw (4) a ring on his finger.

„What about your wedding ring?“, I asked suspiciously.

The poor man was so unpleasantly surprised, almost in a state of shock. He quickly looked at/watched (5) his own hand, and just answered completely confused: “ Oh. Yes, I guess I am married.“

I didn’t say anything, I just smiled and walked away. Who needs a liar like that…

Answers: (1) saw, (2) watching, (3) looked at, (4) saw, (5) looked at