Difference Between See and Watch

Main Difference – See vs. Watch

See and watch are two words that are used to talk about our sense of sight. Though both these two verbs are related to eyesight, there is a distinct difference between them. The main difference between see and watch is that to see is noticing something whereas to watch is to look at something deliberately.

See – Meaning and Usage

See is an irregular verb meaning to notice something with your eyes. We start to see things when we open our eyes. Seeing may not be intentional or deliberate, we can see things without any effort.

As mentioned before, see is an irregular verb. The past tense of see is saw, and the past participle is seen. This verb is not much used in progressive tenses. Look at the sentences below to understand the meaning of see better.

When I opened the window, I saw a dark shadow near our fence.

Have you seen my glasses?

He saw his ex-girlfriend at the mall yesterday.

Didn’t you see him? He was at the front.

Main Difference - See vs Watch

Watch – Meaning and Usage

Watch is a regular verb. Watch means to deliberately look at something. We say watch when we are looking at something that moves or changes for a period of time. Watch implies more activity than see. It is a continuous action of looking and observing.

He loved to watch television.

She watches the sunset from her balcony every day.

The coach watched their little league game and was impressed by their talent.

Do you like to watch Boxing matches?

Difference Between See and Watch

Difference Between See and Watch

Now that we have learned the meaning of these verbs let us look at their usage. Though it is easy to understand the meanings of these verbs separately, it is not that easy to distinguish the difference between see and watch in usage. Consider the following examples and observe how the difference in the verb affects the meaning of the whole sentence.

Example 1

We saw birds at the park. – This merely says that they noticed the bird. It doesn’t imply that they watched the birds with interest.

We watched birds at the park. – This implies that they observed the birds attentively.

 Example 2

We saw “Guardians of the Galaxy” last night. – This means that they have gone to the theater to see the film.

We watched “Guardians of the Galaxy” last night. – This means that they watched the film at home, from a DVD or television.

It is important to notice that we use see for a public performance and watch for television at home.

The difference between see and watch can be summarized as below.

Part of Speech

See is an irregular verb.

Watch is a regular verb.


See means to notice something with eyes.

Watch means to look at or observe attentively for a period of time.


See is a shorter action.

Watch is a longer action.


To see a movie means to go to the theater or cinema.

To watch a movie means to stay at home and watch television.

Difference Between See and Watch- infographic

About the Author: admin