mirar vs. ver (formal)

plugh

Senior Member
United States Bronx American English
Hello, Spanish language aficionados! Please help me out of my confusion.

While looking up haiga versus haya, I happened upon an interesting journal article in which a middle class family from Guanajuato criticizes a Chicana student teacher (staying with them to improve her language skills) for using mirar instead of ver. They tell her that mirar is used when looking through a telescope. They commented thus about her: "Habla como si fuera de rancho."

So now I am thoroughly confused. I thought that ver meant to see and that mirar meant to look (at). So if I wanted to call my Mexican carpenter's attention to something, I used to say "Mire!" If I wanted to speak in a more formal register that I might use in all circumstances, would it be better if I said "Vea!" Under what circumstances is it considered more formal and appropriate to use ver instead of mirar when we are translating the English "to look (at)."

I don't think I would have any trouble knowing that I'm supposed to use ver when the English meaning is to see. It's just that, apparently, in Spanish, people use ver to mean to look in certain circumstances. What are those circumstances if one wishes to speak formal Spanish, as I would like to do?

I already checked out a thread on the subject but it didn't help enough.

I would appreciate any help you might provide.
 
  • lforestier

    Senior Member
    Puerto Rico - Spanish/English
    Alguien puede mirar sin ver. You can look without seeing.
    Probably the Chicana was using mirar in places where ver was more appropriate. "Yo trataba de mirar si Juan había llegado." For example, this sentence sounds funny because of that. I believe the difference is very similar to look and see. There's no more formal or less formal way to say them, at least to me. I use both in formal speech.
     

    mirx

    Banned
    Español
    Hello, Spanish language aficionados! Please help me out of my confusion.

    While looking up haiga versus haya, I happened upon an interesting journal article in which a middle class family from Guanajuato criticizes a Chicana student teacher (staying with them to improve her language skills) for using mirar instead of ver. They tell her that mirar is used when looking through a telescope. They commented thus about her: "Habla como si fuera de rancho."

    So now I am thoroughly confused. I thought that ver meant to see and that mirar meant to look (at). So if I wanted to call my Mexican carpenter's attention to something, I used to say "Mire!" If I wanted to speak in a more formal register that I might use in all circumstances, would it be better if I said "Vea!" Under what circumstances is it considered more formal and appropriate to use ver instead of mirar when we are translating the English "to look (at)."

    I don't think I would have any trouble knowing that I'm supposed to use ver when the English meaning is to see. It's just that, apparently, in Spanish, people use ver to mean to look in certain circumstances. What are those circumstances if one wishes to speak formal Spanish, as I would like to do?

    I already checked out a thread on the subject but it didn't help enough.

    I would appreciate any help you might provide.
    Plugh,

    Mirar and ver, have different meanings depending on the country where they are used, for more reference look in the Solo Español forum, but since you asked specifically about a Chicana's usage of the verb "mirar", here is my input as a non-Chicano, ergo, Mexican; of the use of these two verbs in México.

    Mirar is indeed use almost exclusively to attract someone's attention.

    ¡Mira la luna! - and pointing at the moon at the same time-
    ¡Mírame a los ojos! - said with a raised voice and with a hard facial expression-.

    Mirar is almost exclusively used in emphatic or imperative sentences, and usually signalling something with our fingers, or heads, or other type of gestures or explicit form of body language.

    Chicanos, Pochos, and Mexican-born people but raised in the States, however, tend to use it in a much wider way. Ex:

    Vamos a mirar televisión. This would never be said by a Mexican, we will only and exclusively use the verb "ver" in this case.
    Ayer fue la última vez que lo miré. Again, this sounds extremely odd for native Mexican ears. Vi would be our choice.

    Now; both ways -mirar and ver- are correct as they are synonims, and they are indeed used interchangably in many countries. However, the usage in middle and upperclass México could pretty much be summed up by what I typed above.

    So to answer to your last question. If you want to speak in a formal register in Mexican Spanish, then yes, try using mirar only when you wish to immediately get someone to focus his attention on something, or also as a translation of "to look (at)" but only when this implies amazement, bewilderment, or fascination.
    Mira cómo se mueve, cómo se retuerce de dolor.
    No puedo dejar de mirarte.

    In any given case, if you are unsure of which one to use always opt for ver.


    NOTE: This my experience in the Northern State of Durango, which resembles the use it has in Guanajuato and the center of the country. People from other states, particularly the Northern ones like Chihuahua, may accept the usage of mirar in the same way that Chicanos do, even in educated speech.
     

    lforestier

    Senior Member
    Puerto Rico - Spanish/English
    Plugh, make sure you note that Mirx' comments on Mexican usage are specific to his region, as he mentions. While many uneducated people might use mirar in place where ver is appropriate, such as "mirar television" "look at television instead of watch television", the word mirar is a proper Spanish word that can be used correctly in formal or educated speech.
    See this thread. http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=897989
     

    plugh

    Senior Member
    United States Bronx American English
    Thank you for helping. Although I am still a bit confused, at least I learned for sure that in formal & Spain Spanish one sees television rather than looking at or watching it. I didn't know that before. I'm still not certain if I should say "Mire!" or "Vea!" to my carpenter when I want him to look at something or if both ways are perfectly okay. Because the family from Guanajuato said to use mirar for looking through a telescope, I've kind of been frightened away from using it at all, especially since Mirx said "In any given case, if you are unsure of which one to use always opt for ver."
     

    lforestier

    Senior Member
    Puerto Rico - Spanish/English
    Use "mirar" in any situation you would use the word "glance" in English. I wouldn't worry too much about the comment of using "mirar" only if using a telescope. I commonly use something like "veo la luna por mi telescopio" and "mire' el reloj para saber si iba tarde" and I don't consider myself uneducated in Spanish having studied in Spanish all the way up to college.
     

    mirx

    Banned
    Español
    Thank you for helping. Although I am still a bit confused, at least I learned for sure that in formal & Spain Spanish one sees television rather than looking at or watching it. I didn't know that before. I'm still not certain if I should say "Mire!" or "Vea!" to my carpenter when I want him to look at something or if both ways are perfectly okay. Because the family from Guanajuato said to use mirar for looking through a telescope, I've kind of been frightened away from using it at all, especially since Mirx said "In any given case, if you are unsure of which one to use always opt for ver."
    Plugh, speak the way you feel. You certainly can't base your lexicon on Mexican usage. As I initially offered, THE TWO VERBS are perfect synonyms and can be very much used interchangably.

    My explanaition was about societal conceptions and regional preferences in México -not applicable to other varieties of Spanish- rather than on grammatical validity, and of course they all apply if you were to speak to Mexican audiences, and only in the case that you didn't want to sound foreign to them.

    I, for example, would certainly not change my way of speaking just because it sounds weird to a Paraguayan, nor would I expect a Canarian to adjust his speech to mine.

    About the telescope thing, well yes, we actually say ver in order to mirar.

    Acércate, ve por el telescopio y mira todas las estrellas.

    Mirar in this case means "glance, admire, look in amazment, ect".

    Don't worry to much about this, why there is not any rule. And what sounds uneducated and rancho-like in México, may just as well be the only correct way to say things in other countries.
     
    Last edited:

    wardo

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Maybe just to add to you initial confusion. A Spanish native speaker from Spain as I am wouln't ever say:"Acércate, ve por el telescopio y mira todas las estrellas". but rather"Acércate, mira por el telescopio y verás todas las estrellas".
     

    plugh

    Senior Member
    United States Bronx American English
    Wow, with the help y'all have given, I have now learned that the rules are not as clear as the family in Guanajuato believes.

    "Acércate, mira por el telescopio y verás todas las estrellas". I like that because it makes sense in English: "...look through the telescope and you will see all the stars". What will be easiest for me is to follow the English usage of look and see, applying it to Spanish, keeping in mind, however, that watch, as in watch tv may call for ver.

    Thanks again.
     

    InterpreterALE

    Senior Member
    (Argentinian) Spanish & Lunfardo (Rioplatense slang)
    In the case of the question you ask about the interjection: Look! I've always used: ¡Mira!, but after this thread I starting to hesitate about the correctness of the expression. To my ears if you say: ¡Vea! it doesn't sound natural, but more like pretending to sound polite. So, I looked up in the DRAE and I've found this under "mirar":

    mira.
    1. interj. U. para avisar o amenazar a alguien.
    Then, yes, you should say: ¡Mira! when calling for someone's attention.

    Note:
    Sometimes we say: "Estaba mirando la televisión", but this generally refers when someone is staring without really watching. :)
     

    lforestier

    Senior Member
    Puerto Rico - Spanish/English
    Just when we thought everything was settled...
    I just wanted to add that the Chicana was probably speaking an Archaic variety of Spanish that is common whenever a group of people are separated from the mainsteam. "en veces" instead of "a veces","haiga" instead of "haya", etc.
    It doesn't really make it incorrect. When I hear people talk like this, I would just smile and continue speaking in what is considered proper in Modern usage. Before, I would try to "correct" them but then I realized that I was just being "pedante" like the family from Guanajuato.
     
    While looking up haiga versus haya
    The correct word is "haya". Haiga is slang.

    "Ver" and "mirar" are not always interchangeable so the use of either is not a question of formality but rather the depth of what you perceive when witnessing something. "Mirar" is the action of using your vision while "ver" is the perception you get after using your vision.

    See the definition for more details
    Mirar (1,2)
    hxxp://buscon.rae.es/draeI/SrvltConsulta?TIPO_BUS=3&LEMA=mirar

    Ver (1,2,3)
    hxxp://buscon.rae.es/draeI/SrvltConsulta?TIPO_BUS=3&LEMA=ver

    Mirar = Look at
    Ver = See

    It looks like ithe Guajanato family is the one "que habla como si fuera de rancho."
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top