Today’s 2 words are different inflections that the exact same verb, taking care of visual sight. Verb endings and verbs tenses are among the many confusing topics because that English speakers, so don’t feel negative if you need a refresher.

You are watching: Seen or saw when to use

A rapid note prior to we begin, there space other interpretations to this words, such together a cutting saw, but, today, we are just going to address the feeling of visual eyesight.

What is the Difference between Seen and also Saw?

In this post, I desire to talk around when to usage seen and saw, exactly how each word works in a sentence, and also how come make sure you nothing confuse them again.

After reading this post, girlfriend should ever again wonder to yourself, “Should I usage seen or saw?”

When to usage Saw

Saw is the past tense that the verb see. It forms the basic past, which is provided to refer an action that has started and also finished in ~ a specific time in the past.

I witnessed Star battles yesterday.We observed the parade this morning.He observed her jogging ~ above the sidewalk in the afternoon.

As you have the right to see with every one of these examples, the activity that takes location is over and done with. I observed Star battles yesterday. That event is over and also done with; it isn’t ongoing.

There doesn’t always have to it is in a certain time pointed out in the an easy past, but the speaker typically has one in mind.

The security camera observed the burglars.John observed the accident take it place.

One crucial note around saw is the it deserve to be provided as a independent verb; the doesn’t require a helping verb.

I observed you.You experienced me.

There is no need for a help verb, which is necessary when comparing watched vs. Saw.

When to use Seen

Seen is the past participle that the verb see, and also it is used to form the perfect tenses: current perfect, past perfect, etc. If this sound confusing, don’t worry. I will describe everything below.

The easiest means to call which native is correct and which is untrue is the seen must have actually alongside that a help verb. Past participles cannot show up by themselves in a sentence.

I witnessed the movie. (Correct)I viewed the movie. (Wrong)

Instead, previous participles need what we call helping verbs to kind the perfect tenses.

I viewed the movie. (Wrong)I have seen the movie. (Correct)

If friend see words seen every by itself, you understand a mistake has been made.

Seen v the present Perfect Tense

The present perfect it s too dirty is developed by the words has/have + the past participle.

I have actually seen you approximately here before.We have seen all that we must see.

It is important to keep in mind that girlfriend cannot usage the present perfect it is too dirty with particular time expressions.

Instead, it is provided to explain an activity that has actually happened at an unspecified time prior to now or one whereby the action extends come the present.

I have actually seen this happen all my life.

In this example, ns am relenten a past (and ongoing) occasion that leader up till the present. In such cases, the jet verb (seen) acts together a connector from the previous to the present.

Let’s look at one more example.

I have actually seen this play last week. (Wrong)

This example is an incorrect usage of the existing perfect tense. The verb formation itself is good (have seen), but last week describes a certain moment in the past, which the existing perfect tense cannot do due to the fact that there is no connection in between the past and present. The is acting as the an easy past should and also deals with an occasion that is over, completed, and also definite.

Instead, let’s readjust last week to a different word.

I have seen this beat before. (Correct)

This sentence is correct. The word before is an unspecified time and also simply way that you have actually seen the movie at somewhere in the previous up with the present. You can have seen it last week; you could have watched it last year.

The point is, however, the is it unspecific and also bridges the gap between the past and also the present. At some suggest between all points past and where we space now, you observed the play.

To see a further explanation of the existing perfect tense, click here.

Seen in the previous Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is created by the word had actually + the past participle.

The past perfect it is too dirty is provided to explain the idea the something occurred before another action in the past.

I had currently seen the movie twice before seeing that tonight.I had never watched such a gorgeous landscape before I saw Hawaii.

In various other words, if you room talking about a previous event and also need to walk further right into the past to talk around something else, that is what the previous perfect it s too dirty is provided for.

Trick to Remember the Difference

The best method to save track of experienced vs. Seen is to usage the cheat I stated above.

Saw must never appear with a helping verb in former of it and also stands alone.

I witnessed you.You observed me.

Seen is the specific opposite; that cannot show up without a help verb and never was standing alone.

I have seen you.You have seen me.

The differences in an interpretation between these two examples are outlined above.


Is it observed or seen? when these two verbs forms are sometimes combined up, they room pretty easy to save track of.

Saw is supplied with the straightforward past. It have the right to stand alone and doesn’t show up with help verbs.

See more: How Many Calories In A Slice Of Processed Cheese Calories & Calorie Chart

Seen is a previous participle and also forms the perfect tenses. The cannot stand alone and also must always appear v a help verb.