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  1. #1
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Looking forward to doing something

    This question arose in another thread. TD sent me a PM, but I think the question of this usage (which she called a 'solecism') needs wider discussion.

    Here's her PM and my reply:

    Quote Originally Posted by thedaffodils
    Hi BobK,

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    The text I quoted as below is commented by an Australian.

    Well, we don't say "I am looking forward to" because here the "looking" is more a mental attitude or state of mind, and not something that you are actually doing physically or mentally. So, you don't use it in a continuous sense. The set phrase is "look forward to", and we say "I look forward to seeing you again" in formal English.

    In a sentence like "I am looking at you now" or "I am looking for a post office", "looking" is an action, so you can use it in the continuous form.

    It's like saying "I love you" and not "I am loving you". The "love" here is a state of mind and not some kind of action, mental or physical. Of course, you may have heard MacDonald's slogan, "I'm lovin' it", but that is just a slogan, and not quite correct English.

    The second version you've given, "Looking forward to seeing you again", could be used in informal English, in personal letters. You drop the personal pronoun "I" so that your letter would not be full of Is. You know how a personal letter normally looks: I did this, I did that, I came here, I went there, I, I, I, I....
    We often leave out such repetitive personal pronouns from entries we make in personal diaries or journals.

    But, rather than using two ings in one sentence (looking, and seeing), you would more usually say informally, "Look forward to seeing you again". I certainly do!
    Cheers!
    I guess it's an Australian thing. In Br Eng, and obviously in Canadian English, the present continuous is OK; so is the present simple:

    'I look forward to seeing you' =at this moment, that's how I feel

    'I'm looking forward to seeing you' =state of continuous anticipation.

    The present continuous is typically used to refer to someone's ongoing state of mind:

    'The children are looking forward to seeing you. They can't wait to meet their long-lost granny.'



    b

  2. #2
    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    'I look forward to seeing you' =at this moment, that's how I feel

    'I'm looking forward to seeing you' =state of continuous anticipation.
    Bob, my gut reaction is exactly to reverse your explanations for these two sentences. But then I start thinking, and my head hurts... I think perhaps in the Canadian English all around me there is very little difference between the two, except that "look forward" sounds a little (just a little ) more formal.

  3. #3
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    look forward to -- civil
    looking forward to -- diffusing more friendliness, informality

  4. #4
    engee30's Avatar
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    Cool Re: Looking forward to doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    look forward to -- civil
    looking forward to -- diffusing more friendliness, informality
    Similar thing with hope:

    I am hoping vs I hope

    I's obvious that I hope and I look forward to are used in formal writing rather than I am hoping and I am looking forward to.


  5. #5
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Similar thing with hope:

    I am hoping vs I hope

    I's obvious that I hope and I look forward to are used in formal writing rather than I am hoping and I am looking forward to.


  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    Bob, my gut reaction is exactly to reverse your explanations for these two sentences. But then I start thinking, and my head hurts... I think perhaps in the Canadian English all around me there is very little difference between the two, except that "look forward" sounds a little (just a little ) more formal.
    Hmm. What I wrote was a bit dodgy. When I said '
    'I look forward to seeing you' =at this moment, that's how I feel' I had in mind to put "=at the time of writing that's how I feel" - so I was thinking of the written/spoken distinction that everybody else agrees on:
    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Similar thing with hope:

    I am hoping vs I hope

    I's obvious that I hope and I look forward to are used in formal writing rather than I am hoping and I am looking forward to.

    Which just goes to show - students shouldn't trust me in PMs about language. I know I seem like a soft touch for a quick answer, but it's much better to get these things out in the open.

    b

  7. #7
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I know I seem like a soft touch for a quick answer
    You need a more frightening looking avatar. That will dispell that notion!

  8. #8
    thedaffodils's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    Hi BobK,

    Thank you for bringing up this question.

    Please pen down what you think. I (am) look(ing) forward to hearing from you guys.
    Last edited by thedaffodils; 28-Jan-2009 at 08:13.

  9. #9
    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    I think it's a funny phrase (to look forward to hearing) that makes no logical sense whatsoever if taken literally, but, well, that's the language...

  10. #10
    thedaffodils's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking forward to doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    I think it's a funny phrase (to look forward to hearing) that makes no logical sense whatsoever if taken literally, but, well, that's the language...
    Yikes! Yes, it is.

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