Ok, This site says "I watched that film" is the same as "I saw that film"

  1. entertainment and sport Both see and watch are used when you are talking about entertainment or sport.

When you go to the theatre or cinema, you say that you see a play or film.

I saw that movie when I was a child.

We saw him in 'Hamlet'.

Don't say that someone 'looks at' a play or film. Don't say, for example 'I looked at that movie'.

You say that someone watches television. You can say that someone watches or sees a particular programme.

He spends hours watching television.

He watched a rugby match on television.

I saw his speech on the news.

Similarly, you say that someone watches a sport such as football, but you can say that they watch or see a particular match.

More people are watching cricket than ever before.

Did you watch the game last night?

Millions of people saw the World Cup Final.

However, in the dictionary, see in this meaning is not usually used in the progressive tenses

See: [transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) see something to watch a game, television programme, performance, etc.

Did you see that programme on Brazil last night?

In the evening we went to see a movie.

Fifty thousand people saw the match.

So, it is ok to say: I am watching a film

but is it ok to say: "I am seeing a film"?

  • The site doesn't suggest watch and see are the same in that context, irrespective of the progressive case.
    – user3395
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 10:44

2 Answers 2


As a native speaker, I would understand I am seeing a film to mean the speaker intends to go to a theater to watch a film in the future.

I'm going into the city tomorrow.
--What are you doing there?
I'm seeing a documentary about global warming.

"I am watching a film" would mean that the speaker is currently engaged in the act.

Phone rings.
--Hi, it's me, Tom. Do you want to shoot some hoops?
No, I'm watching a film at the moment. How about tomorrow?

P.S. Seeing a movie refers to the occasion of going to a theater (or some other venue) in order to watch a film:

We're seeing a movie at the new Ritz theater on Friday night.

or to the attendant physical circumstances or mode of the screening/viewing:

Seeing a movie in IMAX is a very different experience from seeing it on an iPad.

Watching a movie refers to what the audience is doing as they become immersed in the film and the story it tells.

You can be interrupted while watching a movie. You cannot be interrupted while seeing a movie.

  • This effectively would mean that "I am seeing a film" and "I will be seeing a film" are identical!
    – CinCout
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 10:50
  • @CinCout: That's right, both refer to a future event. She is arriving tomorrow and She will be arriving tomorrow and She is going to arrive tomorrow and She is to arrive tomorrow are synonymous.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 11:53
  • When you add words that specifically mean "in the future", for instance tomorrow in the example you gave, this makes sense. But with the absence of such words, I doubt if that's the case.
    – CinCout
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 11:59
  • 1
    @CinCout. Are you a native speaker?
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 12:22
  • 1
    @CinCout: If you are not a native speaker, I'm wondering what linguistic experience makes you think you know more than a native speaker in this instance.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 12:24

It's grammatically OK to say I am seeing a film, but it does sound awkward to me. It's probably better to say I am watching a film. I think it has something to do with the fact that watching is often a single, ongoing event. You can watch something for 30 minutes or 2 hours or even 2 days.

See has multiple meanings, but often refers to an event that is a single point in time, not ongoing. It might only take a fraction of a second to see something. And so seeing can refer to many specific points in time instead of one ongoing event. For example, seeing someone means you are dating someone and that you see this person on multiple dates on different occasions. Watching someone means you are continuously looking at a person, perhaps while he/she dances naked in his/her bedroom, and you are wishing you were seeing that person instead of watching that person.

  • So, if someone is completing the movie over several sittings, seeing is still valid?
    – CinCout
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 10:41
  • The answer implies that I'm watching a film and I'm seeing a film are interchangeable, which I don't think is the case.
    – user3395
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 10:44
  • @CinCout I've never actually heard anyone say "I am seeing a movie." But no, I don't think anyone would think seeing a movie would require several tubs of popcorn. Context is important here.
    – Ringo
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 13:53
  • @userr2684291 Interesting observation. I see I watched a film and I saw a film as nearly identical in meaning. "Saw" maybe connotes a more casual manner of watching, but not necessarily. I have never heard I am seeing a film, but I would assume it meant that I was having a deep understanding of a movie, like when I saw "Wild Hogs."
    – Ringo
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 14:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .