Katsoa Nähdä Katsella – Verb Differences

This article deals with the verbs katsoa, nähdä, katsella and many many more. We’ll be looking at how they differ from each other in meaning. We’ll start with the difference between the most common verbs and the get into the more advanced verbs. We also have an article on just the verb katsoa and its different means here.

The Difference Between Katsoa and Nähdä

The verb katsoa is generally translated as “to watch”, while nähdä is “to see”. This distinction is not perfect, but it catches the essence of the matter.

Nähdä is what you do when your eyes are open and you’re not blind. It’s effortless and isn’t necessarily focussed on anything. In contrast, katsoa requires a focus point; something to look at.

Finnish English
Katson televisiota. I watch television.
Näen television. I see a television.
Katsotaan, mitä voin tehdä. Let’s see what I can do.
Nähdään huomenna! See you tomorrow!
En katso mitään. I’m not watching anything.
En näe mitään. I can’t see anything.
Katson maisemaa. I look at the view.
Näen maiseman. I see the view.

The Difference Between Katsoa and Katsella

In contrast with katsoa, the verb katsella refers to watching something for an extended period of time, usually with less focus. The verb katsoa is much more common, so if in doubt, use that one.

Katsella can mean one or multiple of these at once:

  • To watch for an extended period of time
  • To watch with less of a focus
  • To watch while also doing something else
  • To watch multiple things of the same type (pictures, paintings, clothes)
Finnish English
Katson televisiota. Katson uutiset. I’m watching television. I watch the news.
Löhöilen sohvalla ja katselen televisiota. I lounge on the couch and watch television.
Katson patsaan tarkasti. I’m watching a statue carefully.
Katselen nähtävyyksiä. I’m watching the sights.
Voin katsella lintuja tuntikausia. I can watch birds for hours.
Tarvitsetko apua? Ei, Katselen vaan. Don you need help? No, I’m just browsing.
Näyttelyssä oli paljon katselemista. There was a lot to see in the exhibit.

Other Verbs Related to Watching

Below, you can find four groups of words that are related to watching. The words in each group have meanings that are closely related.

To stare, to gape, to oggle

Finnish English
tuijottaa to stare at something/someone
tuijotella to stare (eg. into the distance)
töllöttää to ogle
töllistellä to ogle, to watch curiously
toljottaa to goggle
tollottaa to gawp, to gape
seurata silmillään to follow with one’s eyes

To glace, to peek, to scan

Finnish English
vilkaista to glance at, to give a quick look
kurkistaa to take a peek at
silmätä to glance at
silmäillä to scan, to read quickly, superficially

To check, to inspect

Finnish English
tutkia to examine, to study
tarkistaa to check & repair (eg. teeth, spelling)
tarkastaa to check (eg. train tickets)
katsastaa to inspect (eg. yearly car check)
tarkastella to scrutinize for a period of time

To keep an eye on

Finnish English
pitää silmällä to keep an eye on
valvoa to supervise, to oversee
tarkkailla to monitor, to observe
vahtia to watch, to guard
seurata to monitor, to keep track
tähystää to keep a look-out
tähystellä to watch for
havaita to detect, to observe
havainnoida to observe

That’s it for katsoa, nähdä, katsella and all the other watching-related verbs!

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