See, Look, and Watch

English has many words with similar meanings. In some languages, one word has multiple meanings. Here is a basic breakdown of what these words mean:

see = to open one’s eyes

When your eyes are open, you can see if there is light. If your eyes are closed or there is no light, you cannot see.

To see can also mean to understand. People often say, “I see” instead of “I understand.”

To see is automatic. It is something we do with no effort.

To look is to focus your eyes on something.

Look at the picture.

I know you are listening if you look at me while I am speaking.

To watch is to look at and wait for an action to happen.

People usually use “watch” before “tv,” “a movie,” or a sporting event, but sometime “watch” can mean you are looking at something while you wait for something to happen that is very slow.

“We watched the turtle slowly come out of its shell.”

To watch can also mean to take care of someone for a short time.

“His grandmother watched him while his parents were away.”