Oversee vs. Overlook

I'm pretty sure you've heard these two words before, haven't you? Well, this time, we're gonna learn about all the differences and similarities.

"Oversee" vs. "Overlook" in English

What Is Their Main Difference?

Both are verbs. 'Overlook' indicates ignoring something/someone. 'Oversee', on the other hand, refers to controlling and watching over some people/things.


As stated above, 'overlook' signifies pretending that you have not seen somethin/someone. Look at the examples below:

I knew my daughter had broken the plate, but I overlooked it.

Overlooking someone's mistake means you indirectly approve of it.

'Oversee', however, focuses on managing and watching over a group of people. Take a look at the examples below:

One of your tasks is to oversee what you're fellow coworkers are doing.

They are paid to oversee whether women are wearing hijab properly or not.


They are only similar in that they are both transitive verbs. Check out the examples below:

The manager usually oversees whether her employees are preforming according to the office rules or not.

When you overlook a crime, you become a worthless liar.

Are They Interchangeable?

As it was clear above, they cannot be used interchangeably because their meanings differ. Compare:

✓ The judge seemingly overlooked the case.

X The judge seemingly oversaw the case.

As you can see, this one makes no sense.


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