English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Which of these verbs should I use to better support my opinion about a status of someone when I am convinced about what I am saying?

The president of Czech Republic seems/appears arrogant to me.

share|improve this question
I would go with seem. Although both of them seem close, seem is probably more common. – user17857 Feb 5 '12 at 14:01
thanks for all your comments , I think "seem" is more close to the point of being true about what an object looks like whereas "appear" is like an impression you get immediately at a glance . – ray Feb 5 '12 at 14:40
@ray: You're making a spurious distinction - in this context, there is no subtle difference whatsoever. – FumbleFingers Feb 5 '12 at 14:50
A very similar question appears to have been asked before: english.stackexchange.com/questions/21758/… – AndrewNimmo Feb 5 '12 at 15:16

Appears alludes to appearance, to visibility or visible, tangible evidence whilst seems has a more intangible, impressional nature. Nevertheless, it seems they tend to be used interchangeably or at least, that's how it appears to me.

share|improve this answer
That's how it seems to me as well, but @Brett got in first, so he can have my upvote! – FumbleFingers Feb 5 '12 at 14:49
+1, always good to be reminded of subtle difference between words due to their etymology or morphology, disregarding their interchangeable use in common language – Vladtn Feb 5 '12 at 15:03
@Vladtn I think very much so ! – ray Feb 5 '12 at 17:59

I think there is no significant, discernible difference in meaning.

However, there may be a difference in origin. English has many words of similar meaning that are either French/Latin origin or Germanic/Anglo-Saxon origin. Appear seems to be the Latin form.

As an aside, words of Latin origin were often used by the upper classes. While those of Germanic origin were often often associated with the masses.

Appear: Latin apparēre, from ad- + parēre to show oneself

Seem: Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse sœma to honor

share|improve this answer

I can see no basis on which to prefer one over the other. In terms of frequency, ngrams shows they are very close.

share|improve this answer
A corpus search might reveal something. Or it might not. – Barrie England Feb 5 '12 at 18:51

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.