22 ‘LOOK’ Expressions & Phrasal Verbs in Context: look up to, look back on, look as though + MORE!

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Learn common English phrasal verbs and expressions with LOOK! These are very common, and sometimes hard to learn. I will teach you 22 LOOK expressions and phrasal verbs in context to help you learn them easily, including:
– look up to
– look out for
– look into
– look back on
– look down on
– and more!
PLUS I’ve got a QUIZ at the end to help you practise!

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish coming at you from my new house!

Now I know it kind of looks exactly the same as it was before back there but I can assure you that what’s happening on that side of the camera is not okay. I spent the last couple of weeks packing and lifting and sorting and moving house always takes way longer than you think.

I was a little disorganised last week so I didn’t make a new lesson for you and I’m sorry about that but today I’ve got an awesome lesson for you to help you expand your vocabulary and learn new expressions all using the verb look.

Now I’m sure there’s going to be some familiar ones in there but that’s great because you’ll get to review them and practise with me a little and make sure you’re using these expressions accurately.

And there will definitely be some new ones that will help you to build your vocabulary further and it’ll be interesting to see them used accurately in context as well. And as always, I’ve got a mini quiz at the end to help you practise so stick around.

We’ve got a lot of phrasal verbs and expressions to get through today so make sure you’ve got a notebook handy where you can write down some of the new expressions and ways of using them.

Watching and listening is great but to make these words stick in your mind, practise using them yourself, write some sentences down and be especially mindful of the prepositions and the words that are commonly used with look.

This means that you’re learning to use these expressions accurately and it’ll help you to sound more natural as you use them in spoken English as well.

1. (to) look…

Let’s start with these useful structures right here all right take a close look at the options. We have:

(to) look as if + [clause]
(to) look as though + [clause]
(to) look like + [clause]

All of them are used with a clause following.

  • It looks as if it’s going to rain.
  • It looks as though she’s brought her kids.
  • It looks like he’ll arrive late again.

So all of these expressions have the same meaning. We use them to make a statement about a likely result in the future and it’s based on information that we have which means it’s likely, it’s a good assumption.

But there is one little rule to take note of. If it’s just a noun following look, you can’t use as if or as though, you have to use like.

  • It looks like rain.

You can’t say: It looks as if rain because that sentence sounds a little unfinished.

You could say: It looks as if rain is coming.

That’s okay. But just to keep that in mind, if look is followed by a noun, you need to use like.

2. (to) look like (something)

And of course we can look like someone as well and that means that they’re similar in appearance.

  • She looks like her mother.
  • He doesn’t look like his parents.

3. (to) look alike

And we also say that people look alike. They look alike.

It has the same meaning.

  • They really look alike.

lookalike (noun)

And as a noun, a look-alike is someone who has a really similar appearance to someone else and it’s especially if it’s a famous person.

  • Her mum is a Michelle Obama lookalike.
  • Her mum looks like Michelle Obama.
  • They really look alike.

So all of these sentences have the same meaning, really similar meaning. You can express that idea in lots of different ways.

4. (to) give someone a look

Now you can give someone a look as well and when we use look as a noun, we’re usually using it with an adjective to describe the way that someone is looking at someone else.

  • He gave me an angry look before he left the building.

I know that look, that look means you don’t want to be part of that conversation. You’re annoyed.

We also often hear a dirty look and that’s to look at someone in a bad way like in a really negative way.

  • I was late for my sister’s birthday and I knew she was annoyed at me because she gave me such a dirty look across the room.

That was my best dirty look.

5. look back on (something)

When we think about or we talk about the past then we can use look back on something, an event or a time or an experience in the past.

  • I try to look back on the mistakes I made in the past and learn from them.

6. look after (someone)

We look after people you know, we take care of them.

  • I offered to look after my sister’s kids on Thursday night.
  • Who’s going to look after your dog while you’re away?

Do you look after anyone? Or does someone look after you? See if you can make a sentence using that phrasal verb down below.

7. look down on (someone)

To look down on someone is to have a low opinion of them or to think that you’re better than them in some way.

  • It’s really common for people who value university education to look down on those who don’t have a degree.

Can you think of other times in your life or around you in your community where people look down on each other? See if you can write a sentence about that down below.

8. look for (something)

We look for things right? You know when we lose something and we’re trying to find it. Now, of course, we always need to use a noun that follows this phrasal verb right to explain what it is we’re looking for.

  • I’m looking for my keys. I can’t find them anywhere!

9. look forward to (something)

Of course, we look forward to something happening right? We are waiting for something to happen and feeling really excited or really pleased about it.

Lots of you know that I love the warm weather and I usually complain about our relatively mild winter here in Australia but as you can imagine, we are just coming out of winter and heading into summer now and I am very excited about it.

  • I’m looking forward to summer.

I’m also looking forward to seeing my family again. I haven’t seen them all year thanks to COVID and the lockdown and all of that stuff.

I’m sure you probably have something that you’re really looking forward to doing, right? Let me know down in the comments.

10. look around / look round

We look around or we look round. And that’s when we visit a place and see what’s there.

  • Before I book the venue, I’d like to come and look around if that’s okay, just to make sure that it’s suitable.

11. (to) look out!

To look out. We use it as an exclamation to tell someone to be careful. That’s a really common use. We say:

  • Look out! You’re about to knock the glass off the bench.

Look out!

Now I want to highlight a really neat little pronunciation tip here, one that is useful for learning hundreds of English phrasal verbs because this pronunciation pattern is really, really common.

Often native speakers link the consonant at the end of one word to the following word if it starts with a vowel. So instead of releasing the K after look, we combine it together with the vowel sound at the start of out.

Look out.

This little pronunciation tip is going to help you to sound more natural and relaxed as you speak in English and I go into this in lots more detail in a series of videos about linking in English pronunciation, linking natural pronunciation. Find it up here.

12. look out for (something)

We look out for people.

Can you hear that? Look out.

Look out for someone, it means to take care of them and make sure that they’re okay.

  • My nephews are always looking out for each other at school. It is so sweet.

13. look in on (something)

Now a phrasal verb that has a very similar sentiment is to look in on someone and that means to visit someone, to check that everything is okay.

So it’s a little different to look out for, to take care of someone, it means to specifically stop by their house or visit them somewhere to make sure that they’re okay.

  • I’ll stop by the hospital after work to look in on my grandma and make sure she’s eaten.

14. look up

You might already know the phrasal verb look up. Are you already thinking of a few different phrasal verbs that use look up?

15. look (something) up

When we look something up, usually we’re trying to find out some information right or we use a dictionary or Google or Youtube to find the right answer or the truth right. If you don’t know a word you look it up in the dictionary.

Now look up is a separable phrasal verb and that means that we can insert the object into the phrasal verb or we can have it follow.

So we can say look up the word or look the word up. Both of them are okay, it’s possible.

16. a (situation) is looking up

Now we can also say that a situation is looking up. If a situation is looking up, it’s getting better and it’s most often used in the continuous form just like this but not always, you can also say:

  • Now that I’ve got a job again, things are starting to look up.

Okay, the situation is becoming more positive.

Now unlike the previous use of the phrasal verb look up, this is inseparable. We can’t say that we are looking up the situation.

That doesn’t make sense, it’s the wrong meaning of this phrasal verb. But we can say the situation is looking up if we mean it’s starting to look more positive.

17. look up to (someone)

Now if we keep thinking about look up, then I can say that I look up to someone right. I respect them, I want to be like them.

  • I really look up to my boss. I guess you could say that she’s my mentor.

Now this phrasal verb is also inseparable, the object always follows the phrasal verb.

Who do you look up to? Is there someone in your life that you respect and you admire? Write about it in the comments below.

18. look into (something)

To look into something is to investigate it and this phrasal verb is quite useful to use in a professional context.

If a colleague says:

  • We sent out the invitations last week but no one’s responded. Do you think there’s a problem with the website?
    That’s odd, maybe. I’ll look into it and report back after lunch.

19. look over (something)

Another great phrasal verb to use in a work context is to look over something and this means to examine it but usually quickly you know, probably not going into a whole heap of detail.

  • I’ll look over the report tonight and let you know if I want to add anything.

20. look through (something)

We can look through something. Now of course, we have the more literal meaning of look through but like look over, it’s also used when we examine something especially to find the information that you need.

  • I can spend hours looking through recipes getting inspiration for dinner each night.

21. look to (someone)

We can look to someone and we use this when we expect to get help or advice from them.

  • She looked to me for the answer but I didn’t know.
  • If I ever feel unsure, I look to my friends for advice.

22. to have good looks

And last but definitely not least, we have the expression to have good looks and that means that someone is attractive right.

We use the verb have or has and the noun good looks.

  • She has good looks, she’s got an awesome job, recognition in the industry, a gorgeous family. I’m not trying to compare myself to her at all.

good-looking (adjective)

We can also say that someone is good-looking, using the adjective form as well.

  • He’s a really good-looking guy.

Mini Quiz

Okay it’s time for a mini-quiz. I’ve got six questions and you’ll need to choose the correct expression to complete the sentence the right way so make sure you’re paying attention to the words around the expression in each sentence.

They’re going to give you some clues but my best advice is to go with your gut and see how many you get right.

1. He has __________ but he’s not very intelligent.

  • good look
  • good looks
  • good-looking

Answer: He has good looks but he’s not very intelligent.

2. We spent hours ___________ her record collection.

  • looking out for
  • looking through
  • looking into

Answer: We spent hours looking through her record collection.

3. I can’t get my laptop to connect to the projector, can you ___________ for me?

  • look over
  • look it up
  • look into

Answer: I can’t get my laptop to connect to the projector. Can you look into it for me?

4. John has been unemployed since April but he finally got offered a job at a local factory, so things are __________.

  • looking around
  • looking it up
  • looking up

Answer: John has been unemployed since April but he finally got offered a job at a local factory so things are looking up.

5. My friend Sarah doesn’t have family living nearby so after had her operation, I __________. She doesn’t have any family living nearby so I like to _________ her

  • look after
  • look out for
  • look up to

Answer: My friend Sarah doesn’t have any family living nearby so I always look out for her.

6. It ___________ it’s going to rain.

  • looks out
  • look like
  • looks as though

Answer: It looks as though it’s going to rain.

Now this is a trick question. It can’t be look like because the verb doesn’t match the subject. I was just testing.

How did you go? Let me know if you’ve got any questions about these expressions down in the comments below and take the opportunity to practise a little right now.

Hit pause just for a few seconds and write a couple of sentences especially to practise the new expressions that you learned.

Make sure you add your sentences down into the comments. I’m going to spend some time this weekend checking them for you and if you can think of any more phrasal verbs or expressions with look then let me know in the comments too.

If you love building vocabulary and learning collocations then definitely check out one of these two lessons right here. I will see you in there!

Links mentioned in the video

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