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"Look Into" Versus "Look For" Versus "Look Up"

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Wed, May 29, 2013 @ 07:23 AM

look upWhat 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


  • look intoWhat 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

 

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

 

phone book 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.

 

 

 

 

learn English phrasal verbs the fun way

 

 

 

Photo credits: Horia Varlan, How can I recycle this, U.S. Army Photostream, the UMF

Topics: Phrasal Verbs

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