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In class, the teacher asked us to say:

I go to Guangzhou to see a friend

in Chinese. I thought we should say:

我去广州朋友
Wǒ qù Guǎngzhōu jiàn péngyǒu

but the (substitute) teacher proposed:

我去广州朋友
Wǒ qù Guǎngzhōu kàn péngyǒu

I think 见 is more appropriate since it means "to see" in the sense of "to meet", whereas 看 means "to look at", e.g., 看花 (kànhuā) = to look at flowers.

I was corrected on this in the past: I went to an office and said 我想看[她的名字], and I was told that's weird to say, that it sounds like she's a celebrity, and I should say 我想见[她的名字].

However, in addition to the teacher's sentence, the top answer to When to use 看 and 见? says 见 is inappropriate (you probably will not use 见 as a verb), although it also says it is appropriate (见 can be used as a verb when it means to see/meet someone), so now I'm totally confused, and unsure which is best for this particular context.

Question: Is 我去广州见朋友 or 我去广州看朋友 better for saying "I go to Guangzhou to see a friend"?

  • 看 shows more emotions, like you care about him or her (similar to 看望), while 见 is neutral. – Jason Swift May 9 '18 at 2:51
  • That answer confused itself, so don't be confused with that one. Lol, for sure, 见 can be used as a verb. – dan May 9 '18 at 4:06
  • more possibilities; (search dictionaries): 看望朋友、会(会)朋友、见到朋友、 – user6065 May 9 '18 at 6:02
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In this case, I think 我去广州看朋友 is the suitable translation for "I go to Guangzhou to see a friend"? 我去广州看朋友 usually means you want to see your friend there to see how everything is going with him.

Well, 我去广州见朋友 sounds that you want to meet a friend in Guangzhou, usually for some purposes(like business, talking about something, etc.)

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Honestly, I don't think English speaker will say "I go to some places to see a friend", even it is grammatically correct. Normally one will use : "I go to Guangzhou to visit/meet a friend".

Then you can learn how Chinese say the same thing interchangeably :

  • 找朋友, 觅朋友, 觅友
  • 探朋友,探望朋友
  • 揾朋友, 睇朋友(Cantonese)
  • 见朋友, 会见朋友, 会见友人, 看朋友

However, the later example of "looking/searching for somebody name", it is not correct to use [看/见] . The correct terms are

  • 找名字
  • 寻找名字
  • 搜索名字
  • 2
    It's very common in English to use "see" like this, for example my coworker asked me this morning what I did last weekend and I answered "I went back home and saw my family". – user2137196 May 9 '18 at 9:11

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