Using Saw and Seen Correctly




There is a tendency to say I seen it instead of I saw it.


Saw is the PAST TENSE of the verb see, and  usually comes immediately after NOUNS and PRONOUNS.

Seen is the PAST PARTICIPLE of the VERB see.
Generally, seen is used alongside have, has, had, was or were in a sentence to make COMPOUND VERBS.

USAGE: saw : This word is a stand-alone VERB. It doesn’t need another VERB to prop it up.

(a) after NOUNS

  • Bob saw the accident.
  • Bob seen the accident.
  • Sarah saw the new car.
  • Sarah seen the new car.
  • The cat saw the mouse.
  • The cat seen the mouse.
  • The children saw that film last Christmas.
  • The children seen that film last Christmas.

(b) after PRONOUNS

  • I seen the match.
  • I saw the match.
  • You seen it with me.
  • You saw it with me.
  • He seen his cousin in the shop.
  • He saw his cousin in the shop.
  • She seen the zebra crossing the road.
  • She saw the zebra crossing the road.
  • We seen our friends in the playground.
  • We saw our friends in the playground.
  • Ye (You) seen the tiger in the cage.
  • Ye (You) saw the tiger in the cage.
  • They seen the elephant in the room.
  • They saw the elephant in the room.


USAGE: seen

This word isn’t a stand-alone VERB. It needs another VERB to prop it up to form a COMPOUND VERB.

(a) after NOUNS:

  • Mark has seen the film many times. ( has & seen prop each other up to form a COMPOUND VERB )
  • The dog has seen the cat.
  • Rachel had seen the snowman before it melted.

(b) after PRONOUNS:

  • I was seen entering the bank.
  • He has seen the film many times.
  • She had seen the snowman before it melted.
  • I’ve seen my cousin at the stadium on many occasions.
  • We’ve seen the ship sail up the river.
  • They were seen leaving shortly after.

Saw usually comes immediately after the NOUN or PRONOUN.

EXAMPLE: Tim saw the girl and I saw the boy.

The rule changes – and note that saw changes to seen in the process – when a question is asked or when a CONJUNCTION is omitted from a sentence which results in the re-arrangement of the NOUN / PRONOUN and the two parts of the COMPOUND VERB.

  • Have you saw the newspaper?
  • Have you seen the newspaper? (you & seen next to each other)
  • Has he saw the plan?
  • Has he seen the plan? (he & seen together)
  • Had Lucy seen the timetable, she probably wouldn’t have missed the test.(Re-arrangement of If Lucy had seen the timetable …)

Write saw or seen in the following sentences:

1. Kevin ____________ the concert.
2. They _____________ the panto.
3. We _______________ the fight.
4. They ______________ the egg-and-spoon race.
5. Who __________ the aeroplane on the runway?
6. She ______________ the train on the tracks.
7. Kate ______________ the books on the shelf.
8. I have ______________ all my exam results.
9. Has he _______ his new niece since he came home?
10. Had I ________ the condition of the apartment beforehand, I wouldn’t have rented it.

Answers: 1. saw 2. saw 3. saw 4. saw 5. saw 6. saw 7. saw 8. seen 9. seen 10. seen


Generally, saw follows I, You, He, She, We, Ye, They
& names of people, animals, etc.


I saw it as in I saw a saw sawing in Warsaw and of all the saws that I saw sawing, I never saw a saw sawing like the saw that I saw sawing in Warsaw.