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Thread: see vs watch

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    #1

    see vs watch

    Hello, I'm not sure about the use of "see" and "watch".

    When I was studying English in New Zealand, I learned from a Kiwi teacher that they use "watch" if it's on TV, and "see" if they go somewhere to see the game.
    However it seems possible to use watch and see even if it's on TV.

    I would like somebody to check the below sentences and tell which verb you would use and why.

    1. I watched/saw soccer on TV.
    2. I watched/saw a soccer game on TV.
    3. I watched/saw soccer in the stadium.
    4. I watched/saw a soccer game in the stadium.
    5. I went to the stadium to watch/see soccer.
    6. I was watching/seeing soccer on TV.
    7. I was watching/seeing a soccer game on TV.
    8. I was watching/seeing soccer in the stadium.
    9. I was watching/seeing a soccer game in the stadium.

    Thank you for your help.


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    #2

    Re: see vs watch

    Basic meanings:
    To see = to observe something, to physically perceive something with the eyes. It is usually something done in an instant - I saw the lightning flash; I see John over there.

    to watch = to observe something over a period of time. I watched the lightning over the mountains; I watch John walk down the street

    However, they are often used synonymously for the kind of usage you are concerned with.




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    #3

    Re: see vs watch

    I would not use the construction, "I was seeing" in any of your examples. Otherwise, I agree with Anglika that the words are used more or less interchangeably in this kind of context.

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    #4

    Re: see vs watch

    Yoshio, in addition, see is a verb of perception; e.g., see, hear, taste, feel, smell. The action isn't acted out, as is the case with the verb watch; it's perceived, which means to become aware of directly through any of the senses. So,

    1a. I watched (the) soccer (game) on TV. <act>

    1b. I saw (the) soccer (game) on TV. <perception = act>
    See and watch are synonymous when the event involves perception, as in looking at TV (i.e., to see TV) and watching TV. But when the event calls for action, see doesn't fit semantically:

    Action: Please watch my bag (i.e., make sure no one takes it).

    Perception: Please see my bag (i.e., look at it).
    Note that, verbs of perception usually don't take -ing, the progressive / continuous tense:

    Action: I was watching (the) soccer (game) on TV.

    Perception: I was seeing (the) soccer (game) on TV.
    There are exceptions though. See and other verbs of perception can be used to express an action, as in

    Action: Max is seeing the dentist today (i.e., has an appointment or date with).

    All the best

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    #5

    Re: see vs watch

    Hello, I now understand that "see" isn't used in progressive form and that the two verbs are often interchangable. But still I have a question. I would like to know which verb you would prefer to use in each sentence below.

    1. I watched/saw soccer on TV.
    2. I watched/saw a soccer game on TV.
    3. I watched/saw soccer in the stadium.
    4. I watched/saw a soccer game in the stadium.
    5. I went to the stadium to watch/see soccer.

    There might be nothing wrong because the verbs are often interchangable, but when I searched the sentences on google, the number of hits was very different depending on which verb to use.

    Example 1
    "watched soccer on TV" (389 hits)
    "saw soccer on TV" (41 hits) +"seen soccer on TV" (67 hits)=(108 hits)

    Example 2
    "watched a soccer game on TV" (269 hits)
    "saw a soccer game on TV" (5 hits)+ "seen a soccer game on TV" (2 hits) = (7 hits)

    Example 3
    "went to see a soccer game" (11,000 hits)
    "went to watch a soccer game" (6 hits)

    From these examples, can't it be said that we are more likely to use "watch" when it's on TV and "see" when someone goes to a certain place(stadium, hall or something like that) to see the game?

    We Japanese usually use only one genreal verb for visual perception. This might be the reason why I stick to what might seem trivial to people from other countries.

    Thank you for your help.

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    #6

    Re: see vs watch

    1. Watch as a true action verb involves movement: I am watching people. I watch people.
    2. See can be both action and stative depending upon the meaning:
    a verb of perception ie a stative verb is not used in the continuous: I see what you mean: I understand
    an action verb meaning: visit, examine:
    The doctor is seeing the patient
    3. Both verbs can be used interchangeably particularly in the simple mode:
    I will see/watch a film

    This is a matter of taste, duration and meaning:
    1. Still watch is a more active verb particularly when movement is involved that's why its meaning is observation.
    2. See means visit, examine, correct
    I will see / am seeing aunt next week

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #7

    Re: see vs watch

    Quote Originally Posted by Yoshio View Post
    I would like to know which verb you would prefer to use in each sentence below.
    My choices are in bold:

    1. I watched/saw soccer on TV.
    2. I watched/saw a soccer game on TV.
    3. I watched/saw soccer in the stadium.
    4. I watched/saw a soccer game in the stadium.
    5. I went to the stadium to watch/see soccer.

    Note, see TV isn't a collocation; watch TV is. See a game on TV works just fine.

    Does that help?

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    #8

    Re: see vs watch

    Thank you for your replies.

    It doesn't seem that there are very clear rules of which verb to use and that means I don't have to worry about it so much.

    Just to be sure, is it OK to say that "watch" is more convenient as far as sports are concerned because we can use the verb anytime?

    And one more question. Among the five sentences I wrote, aren't there any sentences in which you use just one of the two verbs and never use the other?

    Thank you for your help.

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    #9

    Re: see vs watch

    Yoshio, there are rules. See post #4. And among the five sentences you wrote, there three sentences in which you use just watch: 1., 3., and 5. Note, watch/see a game on TV.

    Does that help?

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    #10

    Re: see vs watch

    Thank you for clear explanation, Casiopea.

    A bad student now understand what you mean.
    I misunderstood and thought your choices were just your preference.

    Your answers and explanations helped a lot.
    I really appreciate your help.


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