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See also: Sehen


Alternative forms[edit]

  • seh'n, sehn (dated in formal prose, but still common informally or poetically)


From Middle High German sehen, from Old High German sehan, from Proto-West Germanic *sehwan.

Compare Low German sehn, Hunsrik sihn, Dutch zien, English see, Danish se, Gothic 𐍃𐌰𐌹𐍈𐌰𐌽 (saiƕan).


  • IPA(key): /ˈzeː.ən/ (official standard, but less common)
  • IPA(key): /zeːn/ (predominant)
  • Rhymes: -eːən, -eːn
  • Homophone: Seen (only according to the official standard)
  • (file)
  • (file)


sehen (class 5 strong, third-person singular present sieht, past tense sah, past participle gesehen, past subjunctive sähe, auxiliary haben)

  1. (intransitive) to see; to have sight
    Er sieht nicht gut.He doesn’t see well.
  2. (transitive) to see (something); to perceive by vision
    • 2016, Selma Lagerlöf, translated by Mathilde Mann, edited by Karl-Maria Guth, Jerusalem. Erster und zweiter Teil, Berlin: Sammlung Hofenberg im Verlag der Contumax GmbH, page 225:
      Sahest du nicht den Patriarchen der Armenier ebenso wie den der Griechen und der Assyrer ihre Throne hier errichten? Und sahest du nicht Kopten aus dem alten Ägypten und Abessinier aus dem Herzen Afrikas kommen? Du sahest Jerusalem wieder aufgebaut, eine Stadt von Kirchen und Klöstern, von Gasthäusern und frommen Stiftungen.
      Did you not see the patriarch of the Armenians as well as that of the Greeks and of the Assyrians erect their thrones here? Did you not see the Copts come from ancient Egypt and the Abyssinians come from the heart of Africa? You saw Jerusalem built anew, a city of churches and monasteries, of inns and religious foundations.
  3. (transitive or intransitive) to realize; to notice; to see; to find out
  4. (transitive) to meet (somebody); to meet up; to see; but not in the sense of “pay a visit to”, nor as a euphemism for having a romantic or sexual relation
    Siehst du den Markus noch?
    Do you still see Markus? (Do you meet him regularly? Are you still friends with him?)
  5. (intransitive, often with auf, also nach) to look at; to watch; the construction with nach often implies a turning of the head; other prepositions can be used depending on the context
    Synonyms: gucken, kucken, schauen
    auf/nach etwas sehento look at something
  6. (intransitive) to check on; to look after; to see to [+ nach (object)]
    Synonyms: gucken, kucken, schauen
    Hast du in letzter Zeit nach dem Baby gesehen?
    Have you seen to the baby recently?
  7. (intransitive, informal) to decide spontaneously and/or by personal preference; to wait and see
    Synonyms: gucken, kucken, schauen
    Das werden wir dann sehen.
    We’ll see then. / We’ll play it by ear.
    Soll ich Nudeln oder Pizza nehmen? — Das musst du selber sehen.
    Should I take pasta or pizza? — You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Sehen can be used in a so-called "accusative with infinitive" construction (as in English): Ich sah ihn arbeiten. – “I saw him work.” If such a sentence is in the perfect or pluperfect tense, the infinitive usually replaces the past participle: Ich hatte ihn arbeiten sehen. – “I had seen him work.” The use of the past participle occurs by some speakers but is ungrammatical to many others.


  • There is also sähst besides (du) sähest and (archaic) sahest besides (du) sahst.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • sehen” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
  • sehen” in Uni Leipzig: Wortschatz-Lexikon
  • sehen” in Duden online
  • sehen” in
  • sehen on the German Wikipedia.Wikipedia de