Watch / observe

zaffy

Senior Member
Polish
Say my car is starting to develop some issue, yet it's not clear at all what the issue is. Say we can hear some light knocking sound in the engine. That could be quite a few things and mechanics say it's too early to diagnose the thing. We just need to wait until the thing is clear enough. In Polish mechanics often say what translates into "Drive and watch" or "Drive and observe", meaning you just keep using your car and be more alert/vigilant as for the issue, whether it's worsening or not. Would that phrase work? What would English say?
 
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  • Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    I agree that "keep an eye on it" is an obvious expression to use. We use it in all sorts of similar situations. For example, you go to the doctor with a rash, or a small lump or mole or something. The doctor isn't too concerned and sends you home, but they tell you to "keep an eye" on it and come back if you notice any changes.
     
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    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And out of interest, do "Drive and watch" or "Drive and observe" make sense in such contexts? Or do they sound totally off?
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    For example, you go to the doctor with a rash, or a small lump or mole or something. The doctor isn't too concerned and sends you home, but they tell you to "keep an eye" on it and come back if you notice any changes.
    That's interesing. In Polish a doctor will say watch/observe just like a mechanic. For example,

    Observe your body and come back if you notice any changes.
    Observe yourself and come back if you notice any changes.

    Watch your body and come back if you notice any changes.
    Watch yourself and come back if you notice any changes.


    Does any of those work?
     
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    CaptainZero

    Senior Member
    English
    They're all understandable and all grammatically correct, but none of them are idiomatic. "Keep and eye on it / on them / on things / on the situation and come back if you notice / if you see / if there are any changes", is the way to go.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And if I ask someone to keep an eye on my children for a moment, I guess "watch" would be fine, wouldn't it?

    Can you keep an eye on my kids for a minute or two please? :thumbsup:
    Can you watch my kids for a minute or two please? :thumbsup:
    Can you observe my kids for a minute or two please? :thumbsdown:
     

    CaptainZero

    Senior Member
    English
    "Keep and eye on" and "watch" are ok there, but not "observe". That means "notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant" (Oxford).
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    "Keep and eye on" and "watch" are ok there, but not "observe". That means "notice or perceive (something)

    Longman says "observe" can also mean "watch". Do you disagree? Don't you like these examples?

    1657345961552.png
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    "Can you observe my kids for a minute or two please?"

    So "observe", in fact, does work in this example but it sounds unnatural, that is, too formal, for an everyday conversation, right?
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    "Can you observe my kids for a minute or two please?"

    So "observe", in fact, does work in this example but it sounds unnatural, that is, too formal, for an everyday conversation, right?
    No, it doesn't work. You can't use "observe" in this situation. This is a different meaning of "watch". If you ask someone to watch your kids (or your bag) for a minute or two, it's "watch" in the sense of "keep an eye on" or "guard'. It is not "watch" in the sense of "observe" or "monitor", as in the examples in #12.
     
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    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    "keep an eye" on it and come back if you notice any changes.
    And what if "observe" was used in your example with a doctor? I guess it would sound like you were doing nothing but looking at your lump trying to notice some changes, wouldn't it?
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    And what if "observe" was used in your example with a doctor? I guess it would sound like you were doing nothing but looking at your lump trying to notice some changes, wouldn't it?
    That would be a correct but not especially idiomatic use of "observe".
     
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