The English language can be quite confusing sometimes, making it easy to misuse various words. I myself used to get confused with when to use seen and saw. These two words both refer to a visual action that was already done, but using both interchangeably cannot result in a grammatically correct sentence.
For this article, I will share with you a couple of tips about using the words seen and saw, how they both work in a sentence, so that by the end of this article, you will no longer end up misusing any of the two.
When to Use Seen
When using the word Seen in a sentence, you must remember that it should always come with helping verbs such as have, has, had, can, could, may, might, will, should, been, were, etc.
Here are some examples of how the word seen is used wrong:
- I seen the show.
- The cat seen the dog jump.
- We seen your father.
To make these sentences grammatically correct, you must place a helping verb before the past participle which is the word “Seen.” Here are the grammatically correct examples of using the word seen:
- I have seen the show.
- The cat has seen the dog jump.
- We have seen your father.
Using Seen to form a Perfect Tense
Like I have mentioned before, the word seen is a past participle, and past participles are also used to form perfect tenses. There are three types of perfect tenses, past perfect tense, present perfect tense, and future perfect tense. I know it might sound confusing, but here are some examples to clear things up.
Using Seen in the Past Perfect Tense
A past perfect tense is basically used to describe an instance where something happened before another action in the past. You can use the word seen to form a past perfect tense by adding the word “Had” before the past participle that is “Seen.”
Here are some correct examples of using the word “Seen” to form a past perfect tense.
- I had already seen the show once before seeing it tonight.
- I had never seen such a beautiful girl before I met you.
Using Seen in the Present Perfect Tense
A present perfect tense is used to describe an action that happened during an unspecified time before the present time, or an action that has led to the present. You can use the word seen to form a present tense by using the words “Has” or “Have.”
Here are some examples of using the word “Seen” to form a present perfect tense correctly:
- We have seen her around the city before.
- I have seen all that I need to see.
Using Seen in the Future Perfect Tense
A future perfect tense determines an action that will be finished at some point in the future. To form a future perfect tense with the word “Seen,” you must use the words “Will” and “Have” before the past participle of the verb see.
Here are some future perfect tense examples where I used the word “Seen”:
- I will have seen him by this time next week.
- I will have cooked dinner if I can finish my groceries.
When to Use Saw
Past tenses are basically used to express an action that was finished at a specific time in the past. This means that unlike the past participle of the word see, the past tense “Saw” can be used to form a grammatically correct sentence without the use of a helping verb.
Here are some examples of how “Saw” is used correctly:
- I saw my favourite tree yesterday.
- We saw your teacher this morning.
- She saw him waiting for the bus in the afternoon.
- She saw me.
Tips to Remember
The main thing you should remember to no longer get confused with using the words “Seen” and “Saw” is that “Seen” should always have a helping verb by its side. “Saw” on the other hand, can be used alone to form a grammatically correct sentence.
Here are some correct examples of using “Seen” and “Saw” in a sentence.
- I saw her
- I have seen her
Saw and Seen may have similar meanings, but both of them cannot be used interchangeably to form a grammatically correct sentence. The only thing you should keep in mind to avoid making grammar mistakes when using these words is that “Seen” requires the presence of a helping verb while “Saw” can stand on its own. You should also keep in mind that “Saw” cannot be used to form a perfect tense unlike the word “Seen.”
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