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When I saw my friend after several years, I could not spot him.

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    It looks like "spot" is being used to mean "recognize" here. The speaker observed the image of his friend (in a crowd, perhaps), but did not immediately recognize that it was his friend, as opposed to an arbitrary stranger.

    This is a correct usage of the term, but it could be made clearer if the speaker used "did not notice" or "could not recognize" instead.


    In my opinion, there is a contradiction in the two thoughts so I would have to say that the sentence is not correct. Here is my reasoning:
    When you say "When I saw my friend after several years" you mean that you are actually seeing him. In the second part of your phrase "I could not spot him" you are saying that you could physically see him. I think I know what you are trying to say. Here is a way to say clearly.

    "When I saw my after several years, I hardly recognized him because he had changed his appearance so much."

    The grammar is correct but it doesn't make sense. If you couldn't spot (recognize) him, how were you able to see him? Instead, you could say: "When I saw my friend after several years, I could not RECOGNIZE him AT FIRST."

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