Speak and Write English with Philip

English with Philip

See and watch, hear and listen to

Here are some pairs of verbs you might sometimes find confusing.

See and watch, hear and listen to:

In these pairs of verbs it’s important to know if we are intentionally doing something or if it is just happening without us trying to do anything.

We use ‘see‘ and ‘hear‘ for sights and sounds that come to our eyes and ears, without us trying to see or hear them. For example, Tim said ‘Did you see any of the Games?’

Listen‘ and ‘watch‘ are used to describe paying attention to sights and sounds that are going on. For example, Helen said ‘I watchedsome of the Olympics on TV.’ Philip your Teacher cab help you with these words

A: Did you hear all the police sirens last night?
B: No I didn’t hear a thing. I was sound asleep.
A: I was awake listening to the radio, when suddenly the sirens started blaring for about 10 minutes.

With ‘tell‘ we can use an object (to say who is told):
Can you tell me what the time is please?
She told him not to drive so quickly.

Tell and speak: 

We can use ‘tell‘ to report the main idea of what someone said. We don’t have to repeat the exact words the person used:
She told me to close the window. (She may have said, ‘Please close the window’ or ‘Shut the window’ or ‘Would you mind closing the window please?’)

With ‘speak‘ we usually use a preposition ‘to‘, ‘about‘ or ‘of‘ before the object when the meaning is ‘talk’ or ‘converse’:
spoke to him about his behaviour.
She spoke about her work at the university.
He spoke of his interest in photography.

It’s also possible to use ‘speak‘ without a preposition, meaning someone’s language ability:
Does he speak French?
She can speak four languages.

Lie and Lay

Lie‘ means be in or move into a horizontal position on a surface (for example, on a bed or sofa). This verb is intransitive so it doesn’t need an object. It’s usually followed by a phrase of place:
I just want to lie on the beach all day.
If you don’t feel well, you should go and lie down.

The three forms of this verb are: lielay (past) and lain (past participle):
The dog lay under the tree.
The bones have lain there for thousands of years.

Lay‘ means
1. put something in a flat or horizontal position, usually carefully. It’s a transitive verb so it’s followed by an object (and usually a preposition or adverb):
She laid the baby gently on the sofa so as not to waken him.
He laid the plates down on the table.

2. produce eggs from out of the body of an animal or bird:
Our chicken lays 5 eggs a week.

The three forms of this verb are: laylaid (past), laid (past participle):
Can you lay this vase carefully over there please?
She laid the two dresses on the bed trying to decide which one to wear.
I‘ve laid all the pieces of jigsaw puzzle on the table so we can start putting it together.

You can practice the use of these expressions with Philip your online English language Teacher

The Cambridge Dictionary also has a great webpage that explains the above.