First of all, I am non-native, so is my friend, who is mentioned below.

One day I was checking my friend's diary written in his English, and there was an expression "I seem to [verb]". Then I immediately found it weird for the first personal pronoun to be followed by "seem", because I thought (also I do, though) to seem is to give some impression or effect of being in a state, to the speaker. What I think here is that a first-person pronoun can never give an impression to itself, which makes "I seem" wrong.

Am I correct? Do you say "I (We) seem"?

[Edit] The way he used "seem" is as below:

1) "I seem to practise more."

The context is that he had a sport competition but could not win the game. Then this sentence follows. He wanted to say, like, "I probably have to practise more." Well, first, "have to" is lacking, but to me "I seem to have to practise more" still sounded awkward, so I edited his sentence to "It seems I have to...". However, judging from your answers so far, I guess this works?

2)"I seemed like I was reading others' stories."

The context is that he re-read his own sentences over and over, and this follows. He wanted to say "I felt like I was reading...". I thought using "seem" here is kind of objective, in other words, I just felt like asking "why are you not sure what you yourself felt?"

  • 1
    Seem to what? I say "I seem to be lost" all the time. – Hot Licks Jul 16 '19 at 2:42
  • 1
    Seem is a very odd verb; it normally requires either A-Raising or Extraposition, equating, for instance, He seems (to me) to be nervous with It seems (to me) that he is nervous. When the subject is I, they're still equated, so that I seem to VP really is just another way to say It seems (to me) that I VP, as in I seem to say "Excuse me" a lot. – John Lawler Jul 16 '19 at 3:04
  • I seem to not understand. What verb are you talking about? Using I seem to is normal. – Jason Bassford Jul 16 '19 at 3:30
  • Closely related, if not an exact duplicate: I can't seem to vs I can't. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 16 '19 at 16:24

Using seem is a way to indicate one is not sure about that which follows. If someone seems sick they may look a little sick but we don't know for sure. If the car seems OK it could be but I have my doubts, I'm not so sure.

Using seem about oneself even privately can mean they are not sure about how they feel or what they think or what some situation is. "I seem to be cursed", "I seem blessed", "I seem to attract attention." You might read it as "I feel as though I [verb]"; if the context does not work for that then give us a list of the verbs.

If you are caught checking out your friend's diary he will politely tell you "We seem to have a problem." He is being kind in his description as if there is still some uncertainty when really there is not.

| improve this answer | |
  • I think this answer is well thought out, so I won't close-vote on the question (which shows no research). But please add supporting evidence, for example (linked and attributed) dictionary examples. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 16 '19 at 16:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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