Difference between SEE, LOOK and WATCH

What’s the difference between SEE LOOK and WATCH?

This is a common question amoung ESL students. Here you have a simple explaination.


SEE is something that you do naturally without really thinking.


  • I opened the door and I saw the cat laying on the porch.
  • Can you see the sign?


LOOK is when you make an effort to see something. To focus and concentrate on something. Look is often used with “AT”.


  • Joe looked at the menu before ordering his lunch.
  • Look at that blue bird in the tree.


WATCH to look intensely at something for a period of time. (often something that is moving).



  • We watched the plane take off.
  • Do you want to watch a film?
  • We were watching the children play.