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I understand that "schauen" means to look but I have difficulties to understand "hinschauen" in this context

Ich habe mich auf den ersten Blick verliebt. Ich hätte zweimal hinschauen sollen.

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3 Answers 3

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„hinschauen“ is the opposite of „wegschauen“, to look away. It means to look at something and pay attention to it. Hence

Ich hätte zweimal hinschauen sollen.

means that the speaker should have had a second look, considered things more carefully (so that they might have seen flaws they did not see).

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hin and her give a direction, in this case of the sight (see also) and they come with the questions wohin? and woher?

Ich habe zu ihm hingeschaut und er hat zu mir hergeschaut.
Wohin hast du geschaut? Zu ihm hin.

In your example the question Wohin? is not explicitly answered, thus it has a figurative sense, meaning something like

I should have paid more attention to what I was doing

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  • I would have never figured out the special connotation of hin in hinschauen without looking it up, since literally translated it simply means look to(ward)
    – Andy
    Oct 12, 2015 at 5:12
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    Also, since herschauen isn't a word, I think too much comparison with the usual usage of hin and her could be misleading
    – Andy
    Oct 12, 2015 at 5:13
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Ich habe mich auf den ersten Blick verliebt. Ich hätte zweimal hin-schauen sollen.

Translation

I fell in love with you at first sight. I should have looked at you twice.

Or more roughly:

I fell in love with you when I first looked at you. I should have looked at you twice. / I should have looked you a second time. (maybe then I'd not be in love with you)

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  • I'd explain "hin" by emphasising that you should again, that is after looking away for a while.
    – Raphael
    Jul 2, 2014 at 17:03

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