There are many Japanese Kanji with the same Japanese reading but with a different connotation. These letters are often one of the difficulties Japanese learners face. Even the native Japanese people sometimes misuse it. One of the kanji that they find difficult is the different kanji that has the same reading “miru”. Such as 見る, 観る, 診る and etc. They find it difficult because there are a lot of them, while their pronunciation is kept the same and have a very similar meaning. However, this post focuses on 見る and 観る. Both words have reading “Miru” and mean capturing things visually.
Definition of 見る and 観る and difference between them
In English, 見る would be “to see” or “to look”. 見る means not only capturing things visually but also have several meanings such as “To Judge” and “To experience”. However, this word is mainly used in a situation where information is gained through their vision regardless of one’s intention. Thus, this word can be used in a situation where one saw something they did not want to see or where one was forced to see something.
On the other hand, in English, 観る would be translated as “to watch” and it is used when one is intentionally following something with their eyes. Unlike 見る, 観る should be used when one wants to see rather than when something just happened to be in sight.
To summarise, the difference between those two words is one’s intention. If one was not intentionally seeing something, word 見る should be used. Whereas, if one was intentionally seeing something, 観る would be more appropriate. Use 見る and 観る according to the situation when something is in your sight.
How to use 「見る」and「観る」
Example sentences of 「見る」
Shibaraku yosu wo miru
(See how it goes for a while)
Toku no keshiki wo miru
(Look at the scenery in distant)
Benkyo no tame kakomon wo miru
(Look up the past papers to study)
Jitai wo omoku miru
じたいをおもくみる 事態を重く見る (Take things seriously)
Example sentences of「観る」
Eiga wo miru
映画を観る (Watch movie)
Hana no yousu wo miru
(Observe the condition of the flower)
Oshibai wo miru
お芝居を観る (Watch theatre arts)
Yakyu wo stand de miru
野球をスタンドで観る (Watch the baseball at the stadium)
For TV shows, both 見る and 観る could be used. However, the reader’s impression would be different about how focused you were on the TV show. When you were not really focusing on TV and does not remember its content, 見る is suitable. But if you were watching TV on purpose and watched it carefully, 観る is more appropriate.
For movies and sports, 観る is mainly used. This is because people are deliberately taking actions to observe the event. For example, going to a movie theatre or going to a sports stadium to watch sports. But when you want to say “I watched a movie while studying” or “I happened to pass a football stadium”, 見る would be more suitable.
However, sometimes you may be confused or unsure which one to use. This may occur because you don’t know the situation of the sight or you don’t know which kanji fits the situation more appropriately. In this case, use 見る. This is because 見る is set as Kanji for common use and 観る is not.
To summarise, both 見る and 観る means to capture things visually. However, they are used in different situations. 見る is used when one unintentionally observes something. Whereas, 観る is used when one intentionally observes something. Sometimes, as 見る and 観る are so similar it is difficult to judge which one to use. When in doubt, use 見る. As it means “to see” in general and most widely used.