See to your understanding of phrasal verbs with Tim Bowen’s latest article.

‘It seems increasingly likely that the President will be able to see off the challenge of his rivals when the election comes round’. In this sense, see off means to defeat someone easily. Apart from seeing off the challenge of a rival, one can also see off a competitor, an enemy, the opposition or a threat.

To see off can also mean to go somewhere such as a station or airport with someone in order to say goodbye to them, as in ‘Anne saw Terry off at the station’. A dog can also see off uninvited visitors, such as burglars, by making them leave by chasing them, as in ‘Some people got into our garden but the dog soon saw them off’.

If you see someone out, you accompany them to the door when they are leaving in order to say goodbye to them, as in ‘My secretary will see you out’ or ‘Don’t worry. I’ll see myself out’. If you see out a contract, you continue an activity until the contract expires, as in ‘Mitchell intends to see out the last year remaining on his contract’.

To see through something means to recognize that it is not true and not be tricked by it, as in ‘It didn’t take long for people to see through his plans’, and if you see through a person, you realize what they are really like or what they are really doing, as in ‘I know what you’re up to. I can see right through you’.

To see to means to deal with something, as in ‘If I were you, I’d get that tooth seen to’.