Comparing "jian" and "kan"
Both 见 (jiàn) and 看 (kàn) are often used in informal and formal settings to mean “to meet” or “to see someone”. 见 (jiàn) can also mean to “meet up with” someone, while 看 (kàn) can also mean to watch, to read, or to look at, and even has a special use for visiting the doctor.
|见 (jiàn)||看 (kàn)|
|Meaning||to meet someone||to watch, to read, to look at, to visit|
|Part of Speech||verb||verb|
- 1 To say "to read," "to watch," or "to look at" use 看 (kàn)
- 2 To say "to meet up with" someone use 见 (jiàn)
- 3 To say "to visit the doctor" use 看 (kàn)
- 4 To say "to visit" someone (socially) use 看 (kàn)
- 5 看见 (kànjiàn) means "to see"
- 6 Sources and further reading
To say "to read," "to watch," or "to look at" use 看 (kàn)
To describe a situation in which someone is reading a book, watching TV, taking in a sporting event or performance online or in person, or even enjoying the scenery only 看 (kàn) can be used, meaning "to watch" or "to look at."
- 看 书to read a book
- 看 电影to watch a movie
- 看 手机to look at one's phone
- 看 风景to enjoy the scenery
- 我 很 喜欢 看 书。 I really like to read books.
- 昨天 我 去 看 电影 了。 Yesterday I went to see a movie.
- 他 不 想 工作，他 想 看 手机。 He doesn't want to work. He wants to look at his phone.
- 我 喜欢 旅游，因为 我 想 看 风景。 I like to travel because I want to see the scenery.
To say "to meet up with" someone use 见 (jiàn)
Meeting up (i.e., getting together, a rendezvous) with someone is often used in fixed phrases, often resembling the English pattern “see you tomorrow”, “see you next time”, etc.
- 明天 见See you tomorrow
- 见面to meet
- 好久不见Long time no see
For more on 见面, see Comparing "jian" and "jianmian".
If you want to describe a situation in which you go and see someone in person, you also use 见 (jiàn).
- 见 朋友 go see friend
While 见 (jiàn) is used in fixed phrases to mean “meeting up”, it can also be independently to mean “meet up” in the sense of have an encounter or have interaction with someone.
- 今天 晚上 我 去 见 朋友 。Tonight I'm going to see a friend.
- 我们 下 星期 见。 We'll see each other next week.
- 好 久 不 见，你 最近 好 吗？ It's been a long time. How have you been?
- 他 今天 很 忙 ， 没 时间见 你 了 。 He's very busy today and won't have time to see you.
- 今天 不 能 和 你 一起 去 吃饭 了，我 要 去 见 客户。 I can't go to dinner with you today, I have to meet a client.
- 我 没有 见 过 他，不 知道 他 是 谁。I haven't met him, I don't know who he is.
- 那个 女孩儿 很 好，见 过 她 的 人 都 很 喜欢 tā。That girl is very nice, everyone who has met her likes her.
- 三 年 不 见， 他 的 变化 很 大 。He has changed a lot in the three years since I saw him.
To say "to visit the doctor" use 看 (kàn)
Although this is a special use of 看 (kàn), it pretty easy to understand. If you have an appointment with the doctor or need to pay a visit to the doctor because of sickness use 看 (kàn).
- 看 病to go see a doctor
- 看 医生to go see a doctor
- 他 身体 有点 不舒服，他 明天 去 看 病 。 He's not feeling well and he's going to the doctor tomorrow.
- 我 昨天 去 看 医生 了。 I went to see the doctor yesterday.
If you want to describe a situation in which you visit someone, as in going on a vacation to see relatives or visiting someone in their home to catch up, etc. use 看 (kàn). These imply the purpose of the visit includes inquiries into someone else’s health and well-being.
Look above (specifically 见 (jiàn) used in the sense of “to meet someone”) and you can see that here 看 (kàn) and 见 (jiàn)’s use and example sentences are all very similar; just remember, using 看 (kàn) emphasizes a visit and includes a taking into consideration someone else’s health and well-being, and that in this context 看 (kàn) is not as commonly used as 见 (jiàn).
- 去 看 你 to go visit you
- 看 家人to visit family
- 我 暑假 去 看 家人。 I'm going to see my family in the summer.
- 我们 今天 去 南京 看 朋友。 tWe are going to Nanjing today to see our friends.
- 明天 我 去 看 你。 Tomorrow I will go to see you.
- 我 听说 她 最近 不开心，我 想 去 看 她。 I heard that she is not happy lately and I want to go to see her.
- 张老师 没有 来 我们 家 看 我们。 Teacher Zhang didn't come to see us at home.
看见 (kànjiàn) means "to see"
In the word 看见 (kànjiàn), 看 (kàn) means "to look at," but is combined with the result complement 见 (jiàn), which is not the same as the verb 见, detailed above. 看见 (kànjiàn) means "to see." It is equivalent to the word 看到 (kàndào).
- 我 看见 了 一 只 猫。 I saw a cat.
- 不 好意思，我 没有 看见 你。 I'm sorry, I didn't see you.
- 昨天 我 在 超市 看见 了 他，但是 他 没有 看见 我 。 I saw him at the supermarket yesterday, but he didn't see me.
- 你 能 看见 我 吗？ Can you see me?
For more uses of 看见 (kànjiàn) and 看到 (kàndào), be sure to check out their article on the Chinese Grammar Wiki.
Sources and further reading
AllSet Learning Wikis
- Result complements "-dao" and "-jian" (Chinese Grammar Wiki)