see

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UK:*UK and possibly other pronunciationsUK and possibly other pronunciations/ˈsiː/US:USA pronunciation: IPA and respellingUSA pronuncation: IPA/si/ ,USA pronunciation: respelling(sē)


Inflections of 'see' (v): (⇒ conjugate)
sees
v 3rd person singular
seeing
v pres pverb, present participle: -ing verb used descriptively or to form progressive verb--for example, "a singing bird," "It is singing."
saw
v pastverb, past simple: Past tense--for example, "He saw the man." "She laughed."
seen
v past pverb, past participle: Verb form used descriptively or to form verbs--for example, "the locked door," "The door has been locked."
WordReference Collins English Usage © 2020
see
The verb see is used with several different meanings. Its past tense is saw. Its -ed participle is seen.
using your eyes
If you can see something, you are aware of it through your eyes.
I can see a light in her window.
Be careful
You usually use can in sentences like these. You say, for example, ‘I can see the sea’. You don't say ‘I see the sea’. Don't use a progressive form. Don't say ‘I am seeing the sea’.
To say that someone was aware of something in this way in the past, you usually use could see.
He could see Amir's face in the mirror.
To say that someone became aware of something, use saw.
We suddenly saw a ship through a gap in the fog.
Be careful
Don't confuse see with look at or watch.
meeting someone
See is often used to mean ‘visit’ or ‘meet by arrangement’.
You should see a doctor.
If two people are meeting regularly, for example because they are in love, you can say that they are seeing each other. When see has this meaning, it is usually used in a progressive form.
How long have Daniel and Ayeisha been seeing each other?
understanding
See is very commonly used to mean ‘understand’.
I don't see why she was so angry.
The situation could be complicated, if you see what I mean.
People often say ‘I see’ to show that they have understood something.
‘He doesn’t have any children.' – ‘I see.’
When see means ‘understand’, you can use can or could with it.
I can see why they're worried.
I could see his point.
Be careful
Don't use a progressive form when see means ‘understand’. Don't say, for example, ‘I am seeing why they’re worried'.
see - look at - watch
‘see’
When you see something, you are aware of it through your eyes, or you notice it.
We saw black smoke coming from the building.
I waved, but nobody saw me.
➜ See see
‘look at’
When you look at something, you direct your eyes towards it.
He looked at the food on his plate.
People looked at her in astonishment.
➜ See look
‘watch’
When you watch something, you pay attention to it using your eyes, because you are interested in what it is doing, or in what may happen.
We watched the sunset.
They just stood and watched while she carried all the bags inside.
entertainment and sport
Both see and watch are used when you are talking about entertainment or sport.
When you go to the theatre or cinema, you say that you see a play or film.
I saw that movie when I was a child.
We saw him in ‘Hamlet’.
Don't say that someone ‘looks at’ a play or film. Don't say, for example ‘I looked at that movie’.
You say that someone watches television. You can say that someone watches or sees a particular programme.
He spends hours watching television.
He watched a rugby match on television.
I saw his speech on the news.
Similarly, you say that someone watches a sport such as football, but you can say that they watch or see a particular match.
More people are watching cricket than ever before.
Did you watch the game last night?
Millions of people saw the World Cup Final.
'see' also found in these entries:
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