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Difference between 'to realise' and 'to notice'

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Hi everyone,

I'm wondering if anyone knows if there is a difference between usage of 'to realise' and 'to notice', and if so, what would that be? When could both words be used for the same sentence?

I have found this at: http://www.f.waseda.jp/vicky/students/help/mistakes/realize.html

notice: to see, hear, or feel something

    He spilled the tea, but Mrs. Whitley did not notice.

    You may notice a numb feeling in your fingers.

    He was too tired even to notice how tired and hungry he was.

    Did you notice him leaving the party early?

realize 1: to know and understand the importance of something

    Do you realize that you are an hour late?

    I realize how much she means to you.

    None of us realized the danger we were in.

realize 2: to start to know something that you had not noticed before

    I suddenly realized that he was crying.

    Later, we realized that we had met before in Paris.

    I realized then how hungry I was.

    Tim didn't realize his mistake until the next day.


With the sentence 'He spilled the tea, but Mrs. Whitley did not notice.' You could use 'realise' here too. Anyone know why that may be?

Many thanks and have a good night. Mark

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Notice is a word that is somewhat limited when compared to realize. Notice means to become aware of something which can be observed. Realize, like you said, means to know something you did not know before.

In Mrs. Whitley's case, she did not realize (did not know that the tea was spilled), but she also did not notice (she did not see him spill the tea).

"Notice" doesn't work in "Later, we realized that we had met before in Paris", because it wasn't something that they observed.

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Notice is different to Realise as the meaning is not the same.

I noticed that the traffic light was missing a globe.

I did not realise that you were offended by my comment.

I noticed that you seemed a little gloomy

I did not realise that I was the cause of your sadness

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Notice and realise have two completely different meanings and one should not be mistaken for the other.

-Notice = to see, to recognise.

-Realise = to come to an understanding, to figure out something.

Practicing using them in written sentences is a perfect way to learn to differenciate the two.

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Probably the biggest difference is ´notice´ is mainly about vision.. it is something you saw.  Realize is more a synonym with ´I now understand that´.... it is more about mentally becoming aware of something.

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  • 3 months later...

I agree with the brilliant explanations given so eloquently here. However, I can see why the two words could confuse learners of the English language. I think it's something that would become a lot clearer the more they use the language.

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  • 1 month later...

If you also think about it spatially, "to realize" implies reacting to something that has passed; whereas, "to notice" is a bit more present in this space.

You notice something in the present, and that something is in the present (or not too long past). Whereas, it is often you "realize" something only after it passed.

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