Difference between look and see

Main difference

The main difference between Looking and Seeing is that Looking is focusing your eyes in a particular direction while Seeing is noticing something using your eyes.

look vs. See

Looking means directing our eyes at something or someone and paying attention to it, while seeing is defined as taking a look at something that is presented to us without special attention. Looking is a voluntary action. On the other hand, seeing is an involuntary action.

Looking is an intentional act, which means that we pay special attention to something with our will. On the other hand, seeing is an unintentional act, which means casually noticing or observing something without our will. We look with care and attention to all the details, while we see without care and attention to all the details.

When we look at something or someone, we try to see hard and focus on the object. On the other hand, we see something when an image appears before our eyes, and it may not be deliberate. Look cannot be used when we are talking about sports, matches or public performances, which may include movies, theaters and dramas, etc. On the other hand, see can be used with sports and entertainment.

When looking with an object is used, “to” is used after looking, while when we use see with an object, “a” is not used. Look is used to state an object specifically. On the other hand, see is used to make simple statements.

Looking can be used to describe an action, while seeing is used to indicate that the experience has been completed. We use look in progressive actions, but we don’t use see in progressive actions.

Comparison chart

Look See
A voluntary action of concentrating the eyes on something is called a gaze. An involuntary action of casually noticing and observing things is called seeing.
Necessary Not required
Regular verb Irregular verb
automatic action
It is not an automatic action an automatic action
progressive time
Can be used in progressive tenses Cannot be used in progressive tenses.
way of perceiving
Direct gaze in a specific direction Perceive with the eyes
Relationship to the facts
unrelated to facts fact related
Look saw
Past participle
Look Viewed
I was just looking at this artistic piece of nature. Mary saw me yesterday at the party.
What is Look?

Looking means intentionally concentrating on something and paying attention to its details over time. Look is a regular verb that can be used transitively or intransitively, meaning that it can convey its meaning with or without an object.

Looking is not a programmed or unconscious action. Looking can be defined as a deliberate action that provides complete information about the object. This verb can be used for progressive actions, but is not generally used to move things.


  • Goggling: Gazing in awe is called goggling.
  • Examine: Observing, noticing, and looking closely is called examining.
  • Counting: Carefully inspecting for accuracy is called counting.
  • Looking: Constant searching for a long time is called looking.
  • Gawking: Gazing in awe is called gawking.
  • Observe: Looking carefully is called observing.
  • Contemplate: See carefully is called contemplate.
  • Looking lewdly: Looking in a suggestive and oblique way is called lewdness.
  • Frowning : Looking in disgust is called frowning .
  • Staring with the eyes: Staring or staring with romantic intent is called staring with the eyes.


  • Alina looked up as Haris hurried into the room.
  • Look at this image. Can you recognize me here?
  • I like to look at the moon at night when everyone is asleep.
  • The lovely couple just looked into each other’s eyes and smiled.
  • Ali glanced around furtively to see if anyone had seen him steal the gold and money.
  • Just look at the rain. Look how hard it’s raining.
  • I’m trying to look at the tower, but I don’t see anything.

What is See?

To see means to observe the environment from the eyes. An image that forms in front of the eyes and realizes the scene with the eyes is called seeing. It is not a look or an intentional act of focusing on something. It is related to the things we cannot escape from.

The word “View” refers to the automatic display of events. It’s not as deliberate as looking. See is not a regular verb. This irregular verb cannot be used for progressive tenses or moving things. “Saw” is marked as the past tense of seeing, while “Seen” is considered the past participle of seeing.


  • Frowning: Making angry facial expressions or looking at something unpleasantly is called frowning.
  • Blinking: The rapid opening and closing of the eyes is called blinking.
  • Wink: Partially closing one eye by showing something like a joke is called a wink.
  • Look: Taking a quick look at something or someone is called looking.
  • Glimpsing: Seeing someone for a very short interval is called glimpsing.
  • Gaping: Seeing something with your mouth open in amusement and bewilderment is called gawking.
  • Staring: Constantly staring at something or someone for a long time is called staring.
  • Peeping : Seeing something furtively and secretly trying not to be revealed is called peeping.
  • Look : Looking carefully at something, which is not clear to your eyes, is called looking.
  • Squinting: Looking with your eyes partially closed is called squinting.


  • I can see white clouds all over the sky.
  • Did you see Ryan? I think he was waiting for you at the bar.
  • Ahmad saw her run out of her house like crazy.

Key differences

  1. Looking is defined as deliberately reflecting on something using the eyes, while seeing is defined as the casual visual perception of things using the eyes.
  2. Look is a regular verb. On the other hand, see is an irregular verb.
  3. We can use the word “look” transitively or intransitively. In contrast, see is used only transitively.
  4. Looking is looking in a particular direction to show your concern, while seeing is simply noticing and observing your surroundings without any concern.
  5. Looking is a voluntary action, which is under our conscious control. On the contrary, seeing is an involuntary action, which is not under our conscious control.
  6. To look, we force our eyes to focus on the object. On the other hand, to see, you don’t need to strain your eyes in a specific direction to focus or chew on something.
  7. Gaze can be used for progressive actions, meaning it can describe moving things. In contrast, seeing cannot be used for progressive actions, which means that it cannot describe the movement of things.
  8. The past tense of look does not change and remains the same. On the other hand, the past tense of see is changed to “saw”.
  9. The past participle of look remains unchanged, while the past participle of see is changed to “seen.”
  10. The preposition “to” is used when looking with an object is used, while no preposition is used when seeing is used with an object.

Final Thought

Looking refers to the elaborate, inspected, and thoughtful visualization of things, while seeing refers to the involuntary, casual, and thoughtless visual perception of things. Looking implies an intentional will, while seeing implies an automatic response.

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