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.

Some others:

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!



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