What is the difference between "look into" and "look for" and "look up"?
They can be used in similar situations, but they are quite different.
Here is a sample sentence:
If you don't know the meaning of the word, look it up in the dictionary.
#1) Look into
What does it mean? When we "look into" something we investigate or research a topic. We look into the possibility of moving to a new city by checking the cost of living and looking for job openings.
Grammar tip: You cannot separate the two parts of this verb. "Look" and "into" must stay together in the sentence.
Examples: "Have you looked into transferring to a new school?" or "I would like to become a volunteer. I need to look into the opportunities around town."
Let's look into the possibility of getting a new job.
#2) Look for
What does it mean? When we "look for" something we search for something. You might look for a missing object like a shoe or a cell phone. You might look for a date or a new job.
Grammar tip: "Look for" is an inseparable phrasal verb. You cannot put the object between the two parts of the verb.
Examples: "I am looking for my socks. Have you seen them?" or " I need to start looking for a new job."
The dog is looking for weapons and drugs.
#3) Look up
What does it mean? When we "look something up" we want to find out a specific fact about that thing. This is more specific and concrete than "look into". "We might look up the meaning of a word or we might look up the population of a city.
Grammar tip: You can separate this verb by putting the object between the two parts of the verb. For example, we can say, " I will look the meaning of that word up" or "I will look up the meaning of that word."
More examples: "Let's look up the address of the restaurant." or "What time does the show begin? I don't know, let's look it up."
I don't know the number of the restaurant. Let's look it up in the phone book.