Commonly confused words: site or sight, and sightseeing or site-seeing


A building site at Truganina in Melbourne’s west

A site is any location. The word site is both a noun (a site) and a verb (to be placed somewhere):

  • There was a lot of activity at the building site.
  • The new housing estate is sited close to transport.

A site can be plain and ordinary, even unattractive, like a dump site, or impressive and significant, such as World Heritage site.

Uluru, a sacred site for the Anangu peoples and a World Heritage site for the rest of the world


Sight means our ability to see and what we are looking at

Sight is the noun from the verb to see. It means both our ability to see, our vision, and something to look at.

  • I compensate for my poor sight by wearing glasses.
  • My sister’s Christmas pavlova is a sight to behold!

My sister’s famous Christmas wreath pavlova is certainly worth looking at – which makes it a sight

Sites that are sights

Sightseers at the World Heritage site of Angkor Wat

I think the confusion between the two words possibly arises because there are some places that are both a site (a location) and a sight (something to be looked at). Generally, these places tend to be tourist sites, where people go sightseeing or go to see the sights (which generally happen to be sights).

Confused? Just remember that what travellers are doing is looking at things, so they are sightseers who are seeing the sights. The things that they look very often happen to be places, or sites – but occasionally sightseers want to experience something rather than just look. Site-seeing, while it could possibly be a word, generally isn’t used, except as a joke.

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

… and best wishes of the season!

The blog will now be taking a short break until 2023. I wish all of you a merry Christmas, and happy and healthy 2023.

Season’s greetings or seasons’ greetings?

If you are troubled by this perennial conundrum, you can find in the answer in my post on this topic.

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Images: Rosie’s Christmas pav by Susan; building site by by Troy Mortier, Uluru by Fidel Fernando, glasses and eye-test chart by David Travis,tourists at Angkor Wat by Taylor Simpson,  Church of the Nativity by Jorge Fernández Salas,  all on Unsplash

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