I guess I understand the rules in Cambridge Dictionary grammar tutorial on see sb do sth and see sb doing sth.

However, Google Ngram shows another possibility of the use of "see"

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in what situations I am supposed to use the pattern see sb did sth? Could someone please give a hint about the rules/conventions of it? Thanks in advance.

"sb" refers to "somebody" or "someone"

"sth" is written abbreviation for "something".

  • 1
    I see [something happened] can be used to mean that you read in the newspaper or saw a report that it had happened. "I see United lost their match on Saturday." Apr 18, 2020 at 13:05
  • Could you provide any sentences you've made up? (P.S. Had you written full forms of 'sb' and 'sth', you would not need to explain what they meant. They're unacceptable forms often used by dictionaries for shortening up long idioms and expressions. We should not use them).
    – Void
    Apr 18, 2020 at 13:07
  • If you are compiling a dictionary or sending a text where space or character count is at a premium then these abbreviations are permissible, but in normal writing, such as posting questions here, there are no such restrictions and the words should be written out in full. Please remember that they are not universally understood and may vary from context to context so they only waste reader's time and may well cause the question to be ignored completely. Jun 16, 2023 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


The pattern "see somebody did something" is used when you want to indicate that you are now aware of (present tense) something that somebody did (past tense).

  • (Looking in the refrigerator) "I see that you bought milk today."
  • (To a co-worker) "I see that they finally finished the project."
  • (Reading the news) "I see that the mayor gave a speech yesterday."
  • (Noticing muddy footprints) "I see that someone let the dog inside."
  • (Running into a friend) "I see that you got a new haircut!"

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