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Using the Spanish Verbs 'Ver' and 'Mirar'

Verbs' meanings are similar but not identical


closeup of eye

El ojo is para ver. (The eye is for seeing.)

Photo by Dan Foy used under terms of Creative Commons license.

Although the Spanish verbs ver and mirar both can mean "to see," "to look" or "to watch," they usually aren't interchangeable. Their differences also don't always correspond directly to the differences among the English verbs that have similar meanings.

Ver is commonly used in the following situations:

  • To indicate the simple act of seeing something or someone. Vi el coche de tu madre. (I saw your mother's car.) No puedo ver las imágenes. (I can't see the pictures.)
  • To refer to the watching of television, a play or a movie. Queremos ver "Survivor" esta noche. (We want to watch "Survivor" tonight.) ¿Vas a ver la nueva película de Almodóvar? (Are you going to see the new Almodóvar film?)
  • To refer to the watching of a sporting event. Me gustó ver el segundo partido del torneo. (I enjoyed watching the second game of the tournament.)
  • To refer to the anticipation of an outcome. A very common example of this is the idiom "a ver," which typically is translated as "let's see" or "we'll see." A ver si podeis ayudarme. (Let's see if you can help me.) Voy a ver qué pasa. (I'm going to see what happens.)
  • To indicate understanding. No veo por que hay un doble estándar. (I don't see why there's a double standard.)
  • To refer to a visit with someone. Es la tercera vez que voy a verlo. (It's the third time I'm going to see him.)

Mirar is commonly used in the following situations:

  • To indicate deliberate looking rather than mere seeing. Yo te miraba de afuera. (I gazed at you from afar.) Miraron a la derecha y a la izquierda. (They looked right and left.)
  • To indicate the orientation of something. El hotel mira al mar. (The hotel faces the sea.)

Note that ver is conjugated irregularly.

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