Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I'm going to talk about the differences between "seems," "sounds," and "looks," especially when using the word "like" as in "seems like" or "sounds like" or "looks like."
So, let's get started!
All right! I first want to talk about "seems like."
"Seems" or "seems like," we use these in slightly different ways.
First, we use "seems" to make general guesses about things we cannot confirm or things we cannot check. So, when I say "we cannot confirm," it's like something that we can't test quickly. We can't check our guess right away. So we use "seems" to make guesses about these kinds of things.
Second, we can use "seems" directly before an adjective or an adverb.
Third, we use "seems like" before a noun phrase. So please keep in mind, "seems," no "like" comes before an adjective or an adverb. "Seems like" comes before a noun phrase. So this is a key difference and we'll see the same pattern with the other words in this lesson too.
So let's look at a few examples.
"You seem tired."
And "She seems nice."
These are examples where we use "seems" with an adjective. So "tired" and "nice" are adjectives. We just use "seem" or "seems" because we conjugate for this subject here. So, when we use it in this way, before an adjective or an adverb, we do not use "like."
Let's look at this other example sentence though.
"This seems like a nice place to stop for lunch."
"A nice place to stop for lunch." So here, we have this noun phrase. Yes, the word "nice" is in this noun phrase, there's an adjective in here, but this right here, "this is a nice place," so we're talking about the place actually. It's not just the adjective that this is modifying, so we need to use "seems like" to talk about it. So that place seems like a nice place. We could say, "it seems nice," sure, but if we're talking about the place, the actual noun, we need to use "seems like" to describe that, so it seems like a nice place.
Okay! So with this in mind, with "seems" in mind which we used for general guesses, let's continue on to the next part which focuses on sounds, sounds. So, we use "sounds" and "sounds like" to make guesses about things based on information we get with our ears. So that means we hear something and we make a guess based on the thing that we heard. So I hear something, like from another room or I hear a sound from outside, I make a guess about the situation based on that sound. So I got the information with my ears.
Second point which is the same as "seems," we use "sounds" directly before an adjective or an adverb, again. And here also, "sounds" without the word "like." We don't use "like" here, just "sounds" or "sound."
Third, as we talked about with "seems," we use "sounds like" before a noun phrase.
So, some examples of "sounds."
First: "She sounds sick."
So, "sick" is an adjective. We're using "sounds" here because our subject is "she."
"She sounds sick." "You sound sick" is how we would use this. So "sick," we use this adjective here because maybe the guess is based on, like hearing someone coughing like the ah-ah sound. You might think, hmm, that person sounds sick or maybe they're sneezing or maybe they just are making some kind of awful sound and you think, mmm, that person sounds sick. So that's based on information we get with our ears.
Second example sentence:
"That sounds great!"
This is a very useful and very common response to an idea or a suggestion.
Like, for example:
"Do you want to see a movie tonight?"
"That sounds great!"
So, it's like you heard the suggestion. You got that suggestion with your ears and your response is, "That sounds great!" So, that's a good idea, in other words. So this is a very common way that we use "sounds" in this pattern to respond positively to a suggestion. "That sounds great!"
"That sounds like a bad idea."
So this is a good negative response to a suggestion. If someone tells you, like let's stay up all night drinking energy drinks. You could say, "That sounds like a bad idea." So again, this is for information we got with our ears and, in this case, it's a noun phrase, "a bad idea." So again, there is an adjective here. The adjective is modifying the noun idea. So, that sounds like a bad idea. "A bad idea" is the noun phrase. Therefore, we have to use "sounds like." In this sentence, we'll use "like" here. "That sounds like a bad idea."
So you'll notice "sounds like" and "seems like" or just "seems" and "sounds" follow a similar pattern, but "sounds" is used for information we get with our ears.
Okay, so with this in mind, let's go to the last word for this lesson, "looks" or "looks like."
"Looks like" is a little different from "seems" and "sounds" because there are two different ways that we use the "look" pattern or the "looks like" pattern.
First, in the same way as we used the other two words, we can use "looks" for guesses about things based on information we get with our eyes. So "sounds" is specifically for information we get with our ears. "Looks" is used for information we get with our eyes. So again, we use this before an adjective or an adverb, just "look" or "looks," and we use "looks like" before a noun phrase.
Some examples of these:
First: "This hiking trail looks difficult."
So here is my adjective, "difficult." I've used "looks here." So, "this hiking trail" is my subject. "It looks difficult," so no "like" here. So, I want to express, like I'm making a guess, I think this is difficult, it looks difficult based on, like my visual understanding of it. So, if you're standing in front of a hiking trail and you look at the hiking trail and it seems really hard, like I just said "seems," that's okay too, if it seems difficult, you can say, "Wow! This looks difficult."
So, another key point for this lesson, so I just used "seems" to talk about using, like the word "looks." So, I mentioned seems is used for, like general guesses about things, yes, and it's okay to use it. There's not a communication problem to use it for something you get with yourโ€ฆ information you get with your eyes or information you get with your ears, but if you can, use "looks" or "sounds" to describe that thing or to make your guess, it's probably going to sound a little more natural to use that.
So I just said, "This hiking trail seems difficult." So that sounds quite general. But if I use "This hiking trail looks difficult," it sounds better because the listener understands, I can see the trail, so I'm making a guess based on, like the information in my eyes, kind of, so I can see it, so that's why I'm saying this. That's the reason for this comment. So if you can, try to use "looks" or "sounds" to make your guess. "Seems" does sound more general.
Okay! Another example with "looks:"
So, "It looks like it's gonna rain."
This is a very common, actually, way to express like a weather prediction. So, "It looks like it's gonna rain" or "It looks like it's gonna snow" or "It looks like it's gonna clear up." So, "clear up" means become clear. So we use "it" to talk about the weather, but "it looks like it is gonna rain," so "it" really here is our noun phrase. So "looks like" is the expression we use. We use "like" here.
But, as I mentioned, there are actually two different ways of using "looks like" and so this second one, we need to be careful of. The pattern that we use here is [A] looks like [B]. So this means A is visually similar to B or that means, A has an appearance similar to B. So these two things share an appearance, A looks like B. They look the same.
"That cloud looks like a rabbit."
So "that cloud" [A] looks like "a rabbi" so that means the two things have the same appearance or a similar appearance.
Another example:
"Your house looks like a mansion."
"Your house" [A] looks like "a mansion" [B]. So the two things have similar appearances.
So you can pretty, I think, clearly tell, you can pretty clearly understand which meaning of "looks like" is intended based on the situation. Is the speaker comparing appearances or is the speaker making a guess. Depending on the sentence, you can usually pretty clearly understand which one the speaker wants to say.
Okay, so finally, a couple of points here. I did mention, yes, if you can use "looks" or "sounds" to describe your guess, please do that, it's very clear. And second, just a general point about the word "seem" is that we use "seem" for, like very general feelings and experiences. So in my example sentences, I was talking about people's emotions or maybe like my opinion about a place. So, it's kind of a very general situation where we use "seem."
So, this is a quick introduction to how to use these words. I hope that it was helpful for you, but if you have any questions or comments or if you want to practice making a sentence with one of these, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!


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Friday at 05:49 AM
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Hello medi,

You are very welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‡

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Good luck with your language studies.

Kind regards,


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Friday at 02:19 AM
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It seems I won't be able to deal with English !

Yet your videos are great:)

Thanks a million

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Thursday at 04:56 PM
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Hi there Collymore, Pablo and Mukti,

Thank you for your comments! We have so many lessons and a lot of support for you here during your studies and are constantly updating the lessons on our site so please stay tuned! ๐Ÿ‘

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Collymore Bero
Wednesday at 05:26 PM
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Helpful staff

Wednesday at 01:24 AM
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After this lesson, learning English seems very easy!

Thanks Alisha!

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Friday at 08:10 AM
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