General Writing and Grammar Help/See & watch


Is there a difference in meaning between the following two sentences?

1) I SAW a beautiful movie on TV last night.

2) I WATCHED a beautiful movie on TV last night.

Thank you,


Used properly, watch denotes an affirmative continuing action by the watcher, that is not necessary when something is simply seen. One would not watch a sign, for example, unless the watcher expected it to change while he or she watched it. But in a theater one would watch--not see--a movie. In informal speech see is sometimes used in place of watch.

*    *    *    *

Paolo, I've made an exception for you this one time, but I need to tell you this question is contrary to the Instructions from the Expert on my Ask a Question page. I suggest you review those instructions.

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Richard Johnson


I specialize in grammar. I can however answer any question except homework questions--usually the same day--concerning English grammar, usage, or (non-fiction) writing style, on the basis of the American practice. All answers are explained, and I encourage follow-up.


I'm a retired editor and a lifelong student of this subject. My library includes a great many works to which I've referred through the years. I currently rely largely on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style supplemented, where appropriate, by Long, The New College Grammar.

For over 30 years I edited the newsletter of my own organization, which had different names but was last known as

BA, Brooklyn College. Advanced studies in economics and political science.

Awards and Honors
For many years a member of Mensa.

©2017 All rights reserved.