Ver vs Mirar: What’s the Difference in Spanish?
Do you say mirar la televisión or ver la televisión? Which is correct between ver vs mirar in Spanish?
The dilemma of using ver vs mirar is actually more common than you think. The verbs ver and mirar have a different etymology and semantic content. They’re also different in how you use them in practice.
Both of these verbs can be used in similar situations and most native speakers tend to confuse them as well, making it a challenge for Spanish learners who dabble in conversation.
Join me in this blog post as we examine the different uses and meanings of these verbs, in the hopes of allowing you to make the right choice between ver vs mirar.
The Meaning of Ver
The irregular verb ver means “to see” in English. The meaning of ver in Spanish goes beyond that and the word is defined by the Royal Spanish Academy as the act of perceiving objects through the action of light.
Ver refers more to a certain physical capacity in which we use our sentido de la vista (sense of sight) without paying attention in a conscious matter to what we are looking at.
Let’s take a look at the different conjugations for the verb ver:
|Pronoun||Simple Present||Simple Past||Future||Imperfect Past|
|Él / Ella||ve||vió||verá||veía|
|Nosotros / Nosotras||vemos||vimos||veremos||veíamos|
|Ustedes / Ellos / Ellas||ven||vieron||verán||veían|
The Meaning of Mirar
The irregular verb mirar translates in English to “to look” or “to watch”. The Royal Spanish Academy defines the verb mirar as the act of fixing your sight on something while acknowledging and paying full attention to it. Mirar is an act where we use our sense of sight but in a conscious and deliberate way.
Let’s take a look at the different conjugations of the verb mirar:
|Pronoun||Simple Present||Simple Past||Future||Imperfect Past|
|Él / Ella||mira||miró||mirará||miraba|
|Nosotros / Nosotras||miramos||miramos||miraremos||mirábamos|
|Ustedes / Ellos / Ellas||miran||miraron||mirarán||miraban|
The Choice of Ver vs Mirar
Now that you’ve seen the meanings that make the distinction between ver vs mirar, let’s summarize it in a simpler way:
- Ver is the act of using your sense of sight unconsciously to look at something tangible or intangible.
- Mirar is the act of using your sense of sight in a deliberate way to observe consciously a physical person or object.
Now let’s take a look at the different scenarios where you can use these verbs and make the distinction.
How to Use Ver in Spanish
Like you use your sense of sight on a daily basis, the use of the verb ver also applies to multiple scenarios. Let’s examine some examples and sentences where you can put the verb ver into use.
Use ver for visits
The verb ver can be used in this context to refer to the action of visiting or going to see someone. For example:
Me vinieron a ver mis papás.
My parents came to see me.
Vamos a ver tu nueva casa.
Let’s go see your new house.
Nos vemos mañana.
See you tomorrow.
Use ver for results
Use the verb ver to express the desire to see what will happen with an event. A few examples are:
Vamos a ver si gano el examen.
We’ll see if I win the test.
Quería ver qué piensas de mi nuevo novio.
I wanted to see what you think of my new boyfriend.
Tu verás que hacer al respecto.
You’ll see what to do about it.
Use ver for seeing someone or something
The most common use for the verb ver is when you use your sight to see a person, object, or animal. Some examples are:
Ayer vi a tu hermana en el supermercado.
I saw your sister at the supermarket yesterday.
Vimos muchos pájaros en la playa.
We saw many birds on the beach.
Todos los días veo una bicicleta roja camino a la escuela.
Everyday I see a red bike on the way to school.
Use ver for entertainment
This use of the verb ver in this context often conflicts with the verb mirar, because in this scenario ver translates in English to watch. When it comes to watching tv, movies, and sports, the appropriate verb to use in Spanish is ver. Let’s take a look at the verb ver in action in this scenario:
Quiero ver la televisión toda la tarde.
I want to watch tv all day.
Ellos están viendo el juego de fútbol.
They’re watching the soccer match.
Vamos el sábado a ver la obra de teatro.
Let’s go see that play on Saturday.
Use ver for comprehension
The verb ver is used in this scenario as a way to understand a situation and request an opinion or perspective. Some examples in this context are:
¿Ves la diferencia entre este color y el otro?
Do you see the difference between this and the other color?
No veo cual es el problema.
I don’t see what the problem is.
¿Cómo se ve este vestido?
How does this dress look?
How to Use Mirar in Spanish
When you use the verb mirar it means you’re looking at something consciously and recognizing it through your eyes, it’s used when something has or requires your attention. Let’s take a look at the frequent uses for the verb mirar.
Use mirar for attention
You use the verb mirar in this context when you require someone’s full attention and awareness, it’s not only about using your sense of sight but fully grasping the situation. It also applies for when you’re paying attention to something or someone physical. For example:
Mira lo que pasó ayer.
Look at what happened yesterday.
Mira esta revista, está entretenida.
Look at this magazine, it’s entertaining.
Mira ese bebé, que tierno.
Look at that baby, so cute.
Me encanta mirar pájaros cuando salgo a caminar.
I love looking at birds when I go out to walk.
More Examples of Ver vs Mirar
I hope after reading this blog post and learning the multiple examples you feel confident and understand the difference between ver vs mirar.
As you move forward in your Spanish skills and conversation, the distinction between ver vs mirar becomes easier and will come to you naturally. Don’t be nervous about making mistakes and applying them into different scenarios. Practice is what allows you to improve.
If you feel like taking your skills to the next level and learning more about the distinction between ver vs mirar, I recommend you sign up for a free trial class with our certified teachers from Guatemala. You can pick up other examples and improve your fluency while applying the different uses between ver vs mirar.
Ready to learn more Spanish grammar? Check these out!
- Seguir Conjugation: Free Spanish Lesson and PDF
- How to Use ‘Sin Embargo’ in Spanish: Meaning, Usage, and Synonyms
- How to Make Requests in Spanish
- Perder Conjugation: Free Spanish Lesson and PDF
- A Complete List of Action Verbs in Spanish
- Everything You Need to Know About the Noun Clause in Spanish
- A Simple Guide to Demonstrative Pronouns in Spanish
- Talk About Your Location in Spanish: Vocabulary and Grammar Guide
- 20 Spanish Number Songs for Kids of Every Age - April 11, 2021
- The Yummiest Vocabulary Guide on Ice Cream in Spanish - April 7, 2021
- Celebrate a Happy Easter in Spanish! Vocab & Activities for Kids - April 4, 2021