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I have seen a non-native English speaker write "Still seeking for a job". That got me thinking, what is the difference between to seek and look for?

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You do realize "seeking for" isn't grammatical, right? –  RiMMER Aug 27 '12 at 10:31
    
"To seek" and "to look for" are exact synonyms. No difference. But I think you realise that you shouldn't use "for" after "seek". –  user16269 Aug 27 '12 at 10:33
    
I didn't know that, but wouldn't use it that way either due to "gut feeling". I am still more interested in the difference between two verbs though. –  Maxim V. Pavlov Aug 27 '12 at 10:33
    
@David, if verbs are synonyms, why one can't seek for something? –  Maxim V. Pavlov Aug 27 '12 at 10:34
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@David Wallace: Hmm. The OED has 104 citations that include 'seek for'. –  Barrie England Aug 27 '12 at 10:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I regard them as synonyms. However, there is a lexical difference. 'Seek' is a pure verb and 'look for' is a phrasal verb - a pure verb plus, in this case, a preposition. Phrasal verbs carry an idiomatic meaning and are more typical in spoken or informal usage.

A similar pair might be 'discover' and 'find out' - but we would never think to transfer the preposition from the phrasal verb and use it with the pure verb - 'discover out'.

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Perhaps the applicant is using a telephone to seek employment?

This would be considered seeking but not literally looking.

In a non-literal sense, "looking for" is synonymous with "sniffing out" but I don't think you can use that to argue that these terms are synonymous in every other context in which one of them might be used.

Logically, seeking encompasses a greater variety of methods and senses than does looking.

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do "seek out" and "look for" mean the same thing? –  Alex Apr 7 at 9:02

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