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Results of a Corpus Study of LOOK, SEE, and WATCH

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Gregory C. Anthony, Hachinohe University


The near synonymy of the verbs LOOK, SEE, and WATCH consistently cause problems for EFL teachers and students. How can we identify the various senses of these verbs? Which senses are the most common in actual language use? How should vocabulary items be presented in the classroom? These questions motivated an exploratory corpus study of these three verbs. After introducing some of the basic terms and theories of corpus studies, this paper indentifies the most common unique collocations and colligations that pair with these verbs. Through an analysis of the varied phraseologies that result, we see evidence for the argument that the majority of language is constructed of fixed phrases. As these phrases seemingly acquire meaning from the co-text in which they are found, I argue that, similarly in the classroom, such words should be also presented in context, along with their common word pairings.
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