- Perceive by sight (using our eyes)
Did you see it?
I am blind, I cannot see.
- Perceive (an idea or situation) mentally / to understand something
I see your point.
Now I see what you mean.
I can’t see him becoming the President.
I can see what will happen if he does that.
- To know or become aware of (something); to find out
I see that you have been promoted.
I want see if he can speak Spanish fluently.
See for yourself.
- Make certain of something, be sure of something
See to it that you come home before midnight.
- Talk to, visit
I went to see my friend.
Go and see a doctor.
- Perceive with attention, to set the eyes (on something) intentionally
Look at the bird!
Look, there’s someone at the room!
- Give an impression
She looks good.
The project looks weird.
- To find something
Did you try looking for it?
We looked all day and finally we found the missing cat.
- To deal with
I must look to this matter.
- Look attentively (with much attention)
He watched the baseball game.
They watched as the suspect was arrested.
- Be careful, be on lookout
Watch out for thieves.
Watch your steps!
I hope that these meanings and situations helped.
See is used for anything perceived by sight. (Anyone who is not blind can see.) It’s a sense. It’s automatic and you don’t have to make a decision to see something.
Look and Watch are action words so they require decision or intention when you use them. You can see anything but you may or may not look at or watch something.
Look is used for things you see intentionally. (Most of the times, you will only look at something you want to see. It’s your intention to see them.)
Watch is used for things you look at with much attention (usually moving scenes e.g. movie, game, etc.)
There are also times when these three words have the same usage. For example,
- Let’s see a movie. = Let’s watch a movie.
It’s a little confusing but I hope it helped. Anyway, the best way to grasp the meanings of these words and how to use them is really by practicing them in conversations and by listening to English conversations.
Some more examples:
- I was looking at the paintings at the gallery when I saw you.
- You were watching TV and your sister was looking at some photos when I saw you.
In these examples, it is clear that watch and look were used for things that you pay attention to (intentionally see) while see was used for something that just came across your sight that you did not necessarily make an effort to see.
Note: If you found a flaw on my explanations, please feel free to correct me. I would be glad if you do so. And if you want something to be explained, please tell me. I will try my best to be of help to you.