Difference between 'Look' and 'See' | Look vs See

One of the most common confusions that students face is whether to use ‘look’ or ‘see’ in a sentence. What do you think? Are the words ‘look’ and ‘see’ the same? Can you use these words interchangeably? All these questions will be answered in this article.

Even though many people think that the English Language is confusing, it helps if you know the meanings of frequently confused pairs of words. It’s true that, unlike other subjects, English is filled with homophones or words that, though they are quite different from one another, can be used interchangeably. The words ‘see’ and ‘look’ are often used interchangeably, but a problem arises when the contexts of sentences are changed. So, to make sure that whenever you are using these words, you are using them correctly, the following points are provided to explain everything at length  that you need to know about the words ‘look’ and ‘see’. Let’s have a look at the points.

Table Summarising the Difference between ‘Look’ and ‘See’

Look See
Meaning When the word ‘look’ is used in a sentence, it means to direct one’s eyes to watching something/someone in a particular direction. The word ‘see’ is used when something is perceived by our eyes or we catch a glimpse of something.
Usage It is used as a verb. It is used as a verb.
Example Look at the beautiful garden! Can you see the ship from here?

Though the above-given table shows that the terms ‘look’ and ‘see’ refer to the actions done by the eyes, they are neither synonymous nor can be used interchangeably. Children who get confused with these terms can now use this table as a reference and use the words correctly. The following points discussed below will help them have a better understanding of the words ‘look’ and ‘see’.

The Difference between ‘Look’ and ‘See’ – Meanings

We might often have used the terms ‘look’ and ‘see’ synonymously and even interchangeably, assuming that they are both mean the same thing. But that’s not the case. As the table above shows, when we use the word ‘look’ in a sentence, we urge the other person to direct their eyes towards watching something/someone in a particular direction. For example, ‘Look! Such a beautiful painting.’ On the other hand, the word ‘see’ is used when something is perceived by our eyes or we catch a glimpse of something. For example, ‘Do you want to see the new Spider-Man movie?’ Once the students grasp this difference between the two terms ‘look’ and ‘see’, it will be easier for them to know their correct usage.

Examples of ‘Look’ and ‘See’

The following examples will ensure students understand the terms ‘look’ and ‘see’:

Look – Let us go and look at the gorgeous red dress in the next shop. (verb)

See – Can you see to it that the answer that I’ve written for the exam is correct? (verb)

Once students understand how the words ‘look’ and ‘see’ are different from one another, they can use the words correctly in English sentences.

‘Look’ and ‘See’ – Conclusion

The words ‘look’ and ‘see’, though, are actions done meant for the eyes, they don’t mean the same thing and thus can’t be used synonymously or interchangeably. When students are using these words, they have to understand the way the action is supposed to be represented in the sentence i.e., whether they just want to ‘look’ at something or someone intently or just ‘see’ something/someone in general. The BYJU’S website also offers various articles on many such ‘Differences Between Two Words’ that students often get confused with and end up using incorrectly.


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