Could you provide some usage examples when they both can be used and some in which only one of them is appropriate? In particular, which is better between "you can come and see the house" and "you can come and view the house"?

  • What information in a dictionary was unclear to you about the difference?
    – SrJoven
    Nov 6, 2014 at 13:53
  • The Oxford Advanced Learner Dict. says "to view" can be used in formal context, but I am not satisfied and I was curious about what English speakers think about it. The question originated as I was talking to a friend of mine, who is a foreigner. He told me that he was searching for an apartment in London, and that he asked to a potential landlord whether he could see the house. He replied that he could view the house. I was wondering if "view" was commonly used or not, and then I decided to search here for an answer, but only comparisons between see, look and watch were available.
    – lev
    Nov 6, 2014 at 15:25
  • As a noun, you can have a view, but you can't (really) have a see, but you can have a look [at a view].
    – SrJoven
    Nov 6, 2014 at 16:01
  • @SrJoven, I agree you can have a look and you can't have a see, but you can have look-see
    – nohat
    Nov 6, 2014 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


Along with @AlwaysAsking's good answer, I'd like to mention a bit of an idea of formality with regard to see versus view in the specific context requested.

A personal request to see the house will imply that the requester will show the house.

"Come see our house!"

Where as view is more formal and depersonalized.

"Come view our house."

It has an implication of inspection or examination without a personal level of familiarity. Whether or not the house is being presented/shown by the requester, it still is more formal and detached.


"To view" is usually used to imply that you are paying attention but "To see" does not always mean you are paying attention.

For example

She viewed the landscape.

means she was looking at the landscape carefully.

She saw him on street.

means she wasn't particularly following him or was looking for him (maybe she saw him accidentally.

In your example,

You can come and see the house

sounds more natural to me. If I want to emphasis that you can come and carefully see the house, I can use a stronger verb. For example

You can come and examine the house


You can come and inspect the house

  • 1
    A lot of truth here. However, 'see' can have more than an unmarked 'happen to see' sense on occasion. 'You must see this, Fred' has the paraphrase '... take a [good] look at ...'. And this sense, which overlaps with 'view', allows 'You can come and see the house' in the sense of 'You can come and view the house'. {'You can stand on this rock and see the house' uses a different (the unmarked) sense, of course.} The choice of 'view' is for greater formality. Nov 6, 2014 at 14:52

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