In our daily conversations, we mainly get along with such common words as to see, to look, to watch, to view and some others. But, in fact, there are great many of the verbs that fall into this category. In this article, I’d like to point some of them out and to draw a distinction.
First we will consider such pairs:
To glance – to glimpse
to glance – to give a quick short look:
- He glanced nervously at his watch.
- She glanced around the room to see who was there.
to glimpse – to see something or someone for a very short time or only partly, when you do not see the person or thing completely:
- We glimpsed the ruined abbey from the windows of the train.
*As a noun this word is often used in the expression to catch a glimpse of (someone or something):
- I only caught a glimpse of it, but I think it was a badger.
To stare – to gaze
to stare – to look at smn/smth for a long time with the eyes wide open:
- Don’t stare at people like that, it’s rude.
- He just stared blankly at me.
to gaze – to look at something or someone for a long time, especially in surprise or admiration, or because you are thinking about something else:
- Kate gazed admiringly at Will as he spoke.
- She gazed in admiration at his broad, muscular shoulders.
*When referred to “someone”, to gaze does have a romantic sense, but when referred to something, it may simply have a sense of tranquillity, remarkability, astonishment.
To skim – to scan
to skim – to read or consider something quickly in order to understand the main points, without studying it in detail:
- I’ve only skimmed (through/over) his letter; I haven’t read it carefully yet.
to scan – to look through a text quickly in order to find a piece of information that you want or to get a general idea of what the text contains:
- I scanned through the booklet but couldn’t find the address.
To peek – to peep
to peek – to look for a short time secretly or trying to avoid being seen, especially from a hidden place:
- Close your eyes. Don’t peek. I’ve got a surprise for you.
- I peeked out the window to see who was there.
to peep – to secretly look at something for a longer time, usually through a hole:
- I saw her peeping through the curtains/into the room.
*this verb is usually used in the progressive form: “he was peeping” or “We are peeping” – which adds to the idea of a longer length of time.
To wink – to blink
to wink – to close one eye for a short time as a way of greeting someone or showing friendliness, sexual interest, etc., or of showing that you are not serious about something you have said:
- Laura winked at me as Stephen turned his back.
- For a second I thought he was being serious, but then he winked at me.
to blink – to open and close the eye (-s), especially involuntarily; wink rapidly and repeatedly:
- I blinked at the harsh morning light.
- You’ve got something in your eye – try blinking a few times.
to peer – to look carefully or with difficulty:
- When no one answered the door, she peered through the window to see if anyone was there.
- The driver was peering into the distance trying to read the road sign.
to eye – to look at someone or something with interest:
- I could see her eyeing my lunch.
- She eyed me warily.
to gape – to look in great surprise at someone or something, especially with an open mouth:
- They stood gaping at the pig in the kitchen.
to squint – to partly close your eyes in order to see more clearly:
- The sun was shining straight in her eyes and made her squint.
Hope, it will come in handy!