I watch television, not look at it.

Pretty much everyone I have known uses the term “watch” rather than “look at” TV. But it seems that people in other parts of the country says that they “look at” it. I come accross this when reading, and when watching the tube. In movies too.
“John’s in the family room, looking at TV.”
What do you say? Either way is right, I’m sure.

In TX we say “watch,” I’ve never heard anyone around here say “look at” unless they are talking about repairing the TV.

I suppose if you can’t afford a working set you sit and look at it. I normally watch a program on the television.

For us it’s “watch” if we’re paying any attention at all. Otherwise, it’s just “TV is on” and maybe we won’t even be in the room with it. If we’re in the room we’re either “watching” or otherwise “listening” while focused elsewhere with our eyes. We don’t just “look at” TV unless we’re watching the video while listening to the audio of the same program on the radio. This latter activity is how we deal with Titans football games. The radio is much better than the TV so we split the experience between “looking at” the TV and listening to the radio.

I suppose the “looking at” applies when we’re listening to music on the stereo but have the picture on something with the volume muted on the TV. We do that every now and then, too.

Here Where it says “description”.
Maybe it’s an east coast thing. I last came accross it reading a Stephen King story.

We say “watch” but I’ve heard “look at” too.
A sidenote, my grandmother used to say davenport instead of couch. Go sit on the davenport. What’s up with that?

My grandma said that too. Cute.
Problem was, it took me up until about the 2nd grade to learn not to call it that around my schoolmates. :smiley:

This thread just jogged that into my memory. Don’t know why. Anyways, it’s an old furniture company.


The difference between “watch” and “look at” is something I go over with almost every ESL class I have. Watching is something you do over an extended period - usually whatever you’re focusing on is in motion. Looking at is usually briefer and the object of your gaze is static. I’ve never heard anyone say “look at TV” instead of “watch TV,” unless it’s in class. In which case I correct them.

Davenport was something the persons we knew in Wisconsin and Iowa would call the coach. There’s a Davenport Iowa too.

My grandmother always said ‘davenport.’ too.
FWIW, she also said ‘look at television’ rather than ‘watch TV.’
Not an East Coast thing; she was born and raised in the Midwest.

It has occurred to me that in olden days, college let’s say, we used to “stare at the tube” or “gaze into the idiot box” instead of “watching TV.” I suppose those are sort of like “looking at” TV.

New York here. I’ve never heard it called anything but watching the TV.

I’ve heard people say “look at TV” but only while watching Cops, that should say something. To me it sounds ignorant for some reason. Kind of like when my friend’s Grandfather asked him if he was going to “pick up” weights. It’s usually called lifting. Meh, to each his own I guess.

“Time has convinced me of one thing: Television is for appearing on - not for looking at”
Noël Coward

“Look at TV” doesn’t sound right, at all. And I can’t imagine location demographics are at play, a high school diploma might be though. “Looking at the TV” sounds better. Still weird, but 200% better. The former sounds like something an eight year old would say.

“Whatcha doin’ son?”
“I looking at TV daddy!”

If I’m sitting on my couch focusing on the TV, I’m “watching it.” If I’m sitting at my computer with the TV on and something catches my ear, I’ll glance at the TV to see if it’s interesting. In that case, I’m “looking” at it, since I’m only half-assedly paying attention to it and am likely to return my attention to my PC in a couple of minutes.

From link:

From the rest of the description, I’d say this copy was written by someone in Engrish, not English.

Never heard of “looking” at a TV unless it was to repair it.

I haven’t actively researched this, but based on my reading of a haphazard selection of old books, magazine articles etc, my impression is that in the early days of TV there was some uncertainty about which verb to use for TV consumption: did one watch it, look at it, view it … or should there be an entirely new word coined?

For a while there seems to have been more or less free variation – some preferred one term, others, another. “Watching” is what most of us do nowadays (but I notice that we’re considered to be “viewers” rather than “watchers”) – but it’s no surprise that one of the less popular options is still used by a minority.

My grandparents called their sofa a davenport. And they lived in Davenport. The street I was born on (not literally) was Douglas Court. My middle name is Douglas.

I was a confused child.