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I was advised by a French native that it's incorrect to say:

J'ai vu le film

Due to the fact 'voir' is a passive act so it would be incorrect to say it like this. Although the rule seems to be the same for 'see' and 'watch' in English but yet we still see 'I saw a film'.

She gave me this link to explain why. She is Canadian though so I wondered if it's a dialect difference also?

Lingolia (Français)

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    But doesn't the very link she provided to support her position (i.e., "that it's incorrect to say "J'ai vu le film") actually contradict it at the bottom of the right ("Regarder") column?: "Attention ! Avec le mot film, on emploie plus souvent voir que regarder lorsque le verbe est au passé."? .... (FWLIW as a non-native speaker, I'd probably use "voir" just as, if not more often for the future, too ("Je vais voir ce film demain.") (and maybe even for the present, at least in cases where "voir"="interpret/take": "Je vois ce film comme un cliché du présent.")) – Papa Poule Jan 9 '18 at 17:39
  • Regarder un filme et voir un filme (qui est pareil que assister à un filme) corrpondent à l'anglais watch a movie and see a movie. Yes. And they are used in different contexts. – Lambie Jan 9 '18 at 23:26
  • Oh yeah you're right, I didn't notice that and I guess she didn't either. – Hasen Jan 10 '18 at 17:58
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The rule is indeed the same as the English “saw”.

J'ai vu le film

and

J'ai regardé le film

are both valid ways of saying “I saw/watched the movie”. I personally don't find any difference in meaning between the two, though I guess you would write the one with "regarder" rather than "voir" in text.

Note however that this does not necessarily apply to similar things. For example, you could say

J'ai regardé la télévision

or

J'ai regardé la chaîne France 2

but not

J'ai vu la télévision (unless you're talking about seing the object TV)

or

J'ai vu France 2

This is also true in English where you wouldn't say

I saw CNN


This does not really explain why both "to see" and "voir" have that same accepted use for movies.

  • Il y a une grosse différence entre regarder un filme et voir un filme. – Lambie Jan 9 '18 at 23:25
  • Mais si, voir et regarder s'utilise dans des contextes différents. T'as vu le filme hier soir? On ne dit pas: Tu as regardé le filme hier soir, posé comme une question d'ordre générale. La même chose est vraie pour l'anglais. watch a move and see a movie are not 100% the same and not used in the same contexts. – Lambie Jan 10 '18 at 16:30
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    @Lambie There is no difference between "T'as vu le film hier soir ?" and "T'as regardé le film hier soir ?". BTW there is no "e" in "film". – Fatalize Jan 11 '18 at 7:27

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