Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: look

Type: Article

Why not look to Tim Bowen for guidance on how to correctly assemble phrasal verbs?

‘Professional footballers are role models that many young people look up to, and, as such, they have a duty to behave responsibly’. In this sense, look up to means to admire and respect someone. If, on the other hand, you look down on someone, you think you are better or more important than them, or you believe that they are not good enough for you, as in ‘She has a tendency to look down on anyone without a university education’.

If things are looking up, they are getting better, as in ‘He’s had a very bad year but now, at last things are looking up for him’. If you look someone up, you go and see them when you are visiting the place they live, as in ‘I’ll be in Sheffield next weekend. It’ll give me the chance to look up some old friends’. However, if you look up something or look something up, you find it out, for example, ’What’s her number? Hang on, I’ll just look it up on my phone,’ or, ’Use a dictionary to look up the meaning of that word, won’t you?’

To look in has a similar meaning but has the additional sense of the visit being very short while you are on your way to somewhere else and also that the person you are visiting is ill or may need help, as in ‘I’ll look in later and make sure she’s OK’.

To look through someone you know means to not recognize them or to pretend that you do not recognize them, as in ‘I saw Angela this morning but she looked right through me’.

To look on means to think of someone or something in a particularly way, as in ‘We’re not related but I’ve always looked on him as a brother.’

Look to has a similar meaning to depend on, as in ‘As young children, we always looked to our parents for guidance’. It can also mean to plan to do something, as in, ’She’s looking to leave her job at the end of the year.’ To look into something, however, means to investigate or think about it, for example, ’The children want to go to Disneyland next year.  I said I’d look into it.’ 

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