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notice vs observe

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Harmless drudge
Staff member
Jul 29, 2006
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English Teacher
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no answer !!???

Just over 7 hours? If you want a quicker answer, try a dictionary. :) There are regular users who are still asleep!

:hi: Welcome to the forum.

I take it you're talking about the verbs - 'notice' can be a noun too. Generally, there's a lot of overlap; sometimes you can use either; in these cases, formality makes the choice. - 'observe' is more suited to formal contexts.

But, to my ear, 'observe' can have more of a sense of intentional observation; in contrast, you can 'notice' something without meaning to.


'I couldn't help noticing that you were on your own. Do you mind if I join you?'
(No intention; but -)

I observed a man in a blue coat behaving suspiciously. (The speaker had a good look.)

However, these two are equally acceptable; the only difference is in the degree of formality -

He noticed a letter on the table. (Less formal)
He observed a notice on the table. (More formal)

But you really need to use a dictionary to find out more. For example, 'observe' can mean 'say'.

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