When it comes to the court and witnessing to a happening, the judge might ask a witness to a murder:

  • Did you see the scene?

Here, indeed the witness could simply reply:

  • Yes, I did. I was there. etc.

However, I was wondering if the witness could use the noun and verbal forms of the word "witness" and say something like:

-1- Yes, I was a witness to that scene.
-2- Yes, I witnessed that scene.

Do these constructions sound idiomatic to you in the specific case? If not, then how should I use the word "witness" verbally and in a noun form here?

  • 3
    Yes, both are idiomatic. A 'witness' in a court of law is usually someone who witnessed the crime (though they may be a scientific expert, for example, with no connection to that particular case). Sep 14, 2022 at 16:25
  • In my country, in a criminal trial, the lawyers for the defence and prosecution put questions to witnesses, and the judge is there to see that the trial is run properly, pass sentence at the end if the defendant is found guilty, etc. Sep 14, 2022 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


Your uses of witness as a noun and verb in the numbered examples are grammatically correct and idiomatic.

There are other details of your question and example that are not idiomatic. For example, typically an attorney would ask the witness questions rather than the judge, and the question "Did you see the scene?" is unlikely and not idiomatic. It would probably be some more specific question about the scene. But I assume you want to focus on the use of witness, so I won't go into that any further.

  • Thank you very much @a101010. Just out of curiosity, may I ask you, what would the attorney ask the witness in this specific case instead of "did you see the scene"? i.e. what is the idiomatic phrasing of this sentence?
    – A-friend
    Sep 15, 2022 at 13:43
  • 1
    They might start by asking something like "Were you in the vicinity of the Cup'a Coffee on June 1st at around eight o'clock?" Something very specific. "The scene" is too general. Specific is idiomatic in this case.
    – a101010
    Sep 19, 2022 at 22:18

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