Commonly Confused Words: Sea vs. See

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What does each word mean?

A sea is a large body of salt water that surrounds land masses. The word is sometimes used figuratively to mean a large mass of something.

Here is sea used in some example sentences:

  • I love to swim in the sea.
  • The story is about someone who sailed the seven seas.
  • It was hard to see the art through the sea of phones trying to take a picture of it.

Look up sea in the Spellzone dictionary.

If you see something, it means you perceive it by sight. The word is also used to describe the act of imagining something with your mind’s eye.

Here is see used in some example sentences:

  • Can you see the swimmers in the sea?
  • I see what you mean, but I disagree with you.
  • They could see the house in the distance.

Look up see in the Spellzone dictionary.  

Where does each word come from?

Sea comes from the Middle English ‘se’ or ‘seo’, from the Old English’. The figurative use of the word to mean a mass of something dates to around 1200. The term sea legs – which is used to describe one’s ability to walk on a ship’s rolling deck – dates to 1712.

See comes from the Middle English ‘sēn’, from Old English ‘seon’. 

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between sea and see?

  • Use both words in a sentence to help you remember the difference between them: ‘I see swimmers in the sea.
  • Think of other ea words to help you remember how to spell sea: 'I went to the beach and saw a seal in the sea.'
  • Think of the two es in see as two eyes seeing to help you remember how to spell the word.

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18 Aug 2022
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"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students!  I'm sure Spellzone will be invaluable in helping them to improve their spellings and therefore improve the quality of their writing in all subject areas!"

Teacher, High School, UK