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This sentence came up in a conversation with a friend...

What time are we going to see?

When I asked what it was we were going to see, he explained that he was using 'see' to mean 'meet'. So he was asking when we were going to meet... At that point a full blown argument started about the validity of using see for meet in this exact structure.

My question is... is this sentence structure with the intention of meaning MEET correct? can SEE ever be used to mean MEET in the exact way above? I am not asking about informal or spoken language or implied meanings. I want to know if this is a valid in a formal written communication.

  • See belongs in the response, not the question: "What time are we going to meet?" "I'll see you next saturday at 2pm." – Wayfaring Stranger May 26 '14 at 20:29
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    @WayfaringStranger: no, that comment is unhelpful. As others have said, see for meet is fine, but only with an expressed object. – Colin Fine May 26 '14 at 21:14
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No, you can't, not in the form your friend said, because see would need an object in this type of structure - otherwise, as you yourself noted, it's unclear what it is that you would be seeing. The sentence could be taken to mean either something like "what time will we see (on the clock/watch) when we look at it?" or some other unusual meaning that is far what your friend was actually going for.

You can, however, say What time are we going to see each other?, and this would be perfectly correct.

Note that What time are we going to meet? not only does not require the "each other" but in fact sounds bad with it, because "meet" already implies the "each other" meaning.

So, to recap: What time are we going to...

  • meet - OK
  • see - not ok
  • see each other - OK
  • meet each other - technically OK, but sounds a tad strange
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  • That was exactly my point... where is the object? Especially in a formal written communication, the structure can't be right. – Keni May 26 '14 at 22:29
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Yes, but not in that way.

You can say "I am going to see Fred", meaning I am going to meet Fred, or "You are going to see me". But not "we are going to see". In other words, "see" can only replace meet in the transitive verb sense.

There is some ambiguity because "I will see you" can also mean that I will view you, without any implied meeting. There is an old joke:

A: "I'll see you later."
B: "Not if I see you first."
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    That joke never made sense to me. Surely it should logically be “Not if I don’t see you first”. If B sees A first, then A obviously does see B later. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 26 '14 at 20:49
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    The joke is the implication that If I see you first, I'll avoid meeting you, so you won't see me. – Colin Fine May 26 '14 at 21:13
  • 'See' can be used more specifically for meetings, too. 'He is seeing a lady', often means he is pursuing an affair. – WS2 May 26 '14 at 22:05
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    I would translate yes but not in that way as a NO. If the exact structure is not right, then that is a no. Specifically for formal English. – Keni May 26 '14 at 22:32

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