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Skilled sculptors from around the world participate in this month-long event while millions of tourist come to ......... their incredibly impressive creations.

The optional answers are watch, look, witness, spectate. According to the key, the correct answer is witness but I feel watch is correct.

Which is the correct one and why?

closed as off-topic by Edwin Ashworth, tchrist Mar 22 '17 at 1:52

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  • Are the tourists looking at the finished artefacts or watching/witnessing them being made? – Dan Mar 21 '17 at 15:39
  • What does CDO say about the usage of 'watch'? (They put it under the heading 'grammar' for some reason.) – Edwin Ashworth Mar 22 '17 at 0:55
  • watching creations implies that they think they might do something. “look at” would work fine, but not just plain ‘look’ – Jim Mar 22 '17 at 2:51
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Witness has more of the feeling of seeing something of limited duration.

Watch would fit properly if we were talking about kinetic sculptures, or something which was ongoing, like performance art.

Neither look nor spectate will work in this exact structure. One looks at something, and spectate lacks the implication of focus.

You can spectate at a sporting event, and watch the game, but you will have to be looking at the amazing touchdown in order to have witnessed it live.

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Witness implies more thought, and therefore more attention. Note the English root witan (to know). It implies both the sensory impression and understanding of some apparent phenomenon.

Watch is more of a duty or chore, which may or may not be successful, (as in "fell asleep watching TV"), and may not require full attention, or even the outward senses, ("I keep a close watch on this heart of mine..." - J. Cash).


None of the suggested words watch, look, witness, spectate when put in the defective sample sentence would make it correct English:

Skilled sculptors from around the world participate in this month-long event while millions of tourist come to ......... their incredibly impressive creations.

One may witness an act of creation, or a creation, but not a set of objects. To "witness their... creations" would imply the thing being is made is the sculptors, as objects of manufacture (i.e. robots or androids) perhaps.

To watch implies the watchers might be there to guard the statuary.

Less specific verbs that would fit: see, view, or behold.

  • I think this answer captures the sense that "watch" refers more to the process of observing, during which nothing of note could happen. "Witness" refers to observing a specific thing of consequence. – fixer1234 Mar 21 '17 at 20:53

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