the difference between words: look, seem, sound, feel


In English, we often use the words “look”, “seem”, “sound” and “feel” to describe our feelings about certain situations, but sometimes it is confusing as to which is the appropriate one to use in each situation. That’s what I’d like to write about today.

Let’s start with the easiest one: “look”. We use “look” when talking about something that we can physically see with our eyes. For example:

I saw a picture of Bill’s new house. It looks really nice.

This looks like a really expensive restaurant. I think we should go to another place.

We use “seem” when talking about a situation that we have experienced for a very short time and we want to give our impression of it. For example:

I only talked to the new manager for a couple of minutes, but she seems really nice.

I’ve only just arrived in this city, but it seems like a really good place to live.

We use “sound” when we are listening to another person talking about a certain situation and we want to talk about our impression of it. For example:

A: My new boyfriend is so sweet and romantic. Last night, he took me out for dinner to an expensive French restaurant.

B: He sounds wonderful.


A: My new apartment has three bedrooms, a big kitchen and there’s a great view from the balcony.

B: It sounds like a great place.

Finally, we use “feel” when talking about the physical or emotional feeling something gives us. For example:

I love going to a hot spring. The hot water feels so good and relaxing.

I really like this restaurant. It feels like a place that I used to go to in my hometown.

So, as you can see from the examples, we can use these words by themselves or they can be followed by the word “like”. The difference is that we say “look” + adjective, and we say “look like” + adjective + noun or “look like” + noun. The same pattern is true for each of these words.

Sometimes, the pattern is a little different, especially when using “sound” or “look”. In these cases, the pattern is “It sounds/looks like” + noun + “be” verb + adjective. For example:

A: I have to work overtime until 11:00 p.m. every night, and sometimes I work on the weekends too.

B: It sounds like your job is really tough.

Did you see the reading list for this course? There are so many books on it! It looks like this course is not going to be easy.



  1. Pimousse Said:

    Thank you ! It’s very helpful

  2. lydia.dina Said:

    thanks for this artical!!! you have really helped me to do my home work

  3. Mahnaz Mollakhodadadi Said:

    God keep you & bless you for your great & honorable attempt to guide the others, I enjoyed it so much.
    Sincere Appreciation,

  4. Limage Said:

    Thanks for you solved my doubt about like, seem, sound. It’s very confusing for Brasilian people.

  5. samane Said:

    your explanation was so clear and helpful and i got all them
    thanks dear

  6. Rashid Awan Said:

    Thanks alot i was in difficult with these words now i got it may you live long

  7. karina Said:

    Can I use these words in past time? If so it is used the same way?
    For example: I’ve only just arrived in this city, but for afar it seemed like a really good place to live.


    • Hello there.

      We can use them in the past tense but, if we do, the feeling is that the first impression was wrong.

      For example:

      It seemed like a good place to live, but I realized later that it wasn’t.

      She looked like a nice person, but she turned out to be really mean.

  8. Juliet Said:

    Thanks for help! Tommorrow I have test and I didin’t understand these differents in using be look seem and so on. Thanks! C:

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