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Mikkel
Some synonyms for “see/notice” This is the context: Let’s say I’m looking out my window for no particular reason and I notice a person breaking into a parked car in the street. Would the following sentences be correct and idiomatic English?: 1. “I caught sight of a person breaking into a parked car in the street.” 2. “I spotted a person breaking into a parked car in the street.” 3. “I discovered a person breaking into a parked car in the street.” 4. “I discovered that a person was breaking into a parked car in the street.” My own thoughts on this: “Caught sight of” is only all right if I only see the person for a very short while. “spotted” To me “spotted” indicates that I was deliberately searching/looking for something, but perhaps it can also be used with the meaning “to suddenly notice something”. Thanks a lot for your help!
Oct 9, 2016 1:40 PM
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Answers · 14
I would say something like: I saw a guy breaking into a car ( or into a parked car ) Of course, this AmE version sounds very informal. We generally don't believe in prettying things up if we don't have to. It's just our way.
October 9, 2016
Jerry's version would also be common in the UK. Notice too is common. "catch sight of" is more formal and means only "glimpse", so it doesn't work as an exact synonym for notice or spot in this situation. On fraze.it, there are some quotes from NY Times and Time from this century! I can imagine using "spot" more when relating the story later, not at the time. Apart from "spot", I'd say that informal terms in this situation are the same in the UK, US and wherever Alan is from.
October 9, 2016
Mikkel, In American English the word you are searching for is "noticed." "Spotted" does imply you were on the look-out for something to happen, but not necessarily. It can be casual, too. "Caught sight of" is not something people would say in this century and "discovered" is just wrong.
October 9, 2016
UK slang alternative "clocked".
October 9, 2016
Mikkel, you're right about "caught sight of". It means "glimpse". "Spotted" is OK for the reason you state. "discovered" doesn't feel natural because we talking about seeing only and not the act of understanding a situation from the evidence.
October 9, 2016
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Mikkel
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