English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the difference in meaning between "Pay attention to" and "Keep an eye on"? Can I use both in the same way? Or is one of them stronger than the other?

share|improve this question
up vote 1 down vote accepted

"Paying attention" implies active monitoring. "Keeping an eye on" is a more passive, possibly intermittent form or attention.

share|improve this answer

By pure logic it looks to me that we can use the phrase “Pay attention” when we talk about ones mind or thought in order to be more concentrated on what we talk about or what is happening or if we want to emphasize something, while “Keeping an eye on” may refer to our focus on a specific material object or a person in order to notice if something happens or changes, etc.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for answering! Great help! Unfortunately, I cannot click the "right answer" button anymore (because I asked the question without signing in)! So, appreciate your answer, too! – user43123 Apr 24 '13 at 10:35

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.