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.

  • I would go with seem. Although both of them seem close, seem is probably more common.
    – user17857
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 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
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 14:40
  • 1
    @ray: You're making a spurious distinction - in this context, there is no subtle difference whatsoever. Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 14:50
  • A very similar question appears to have been asked before: english.stackexchange.com/questions/21758/… Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 15:16
  • seems.. or looks... are both better than appears* Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


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.

  • That's how it seems to me as well, but @Brett got in first, so he can have my upvote! Commented Feb 5, 2012 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
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 15:03
  • @Vladtn I think very much so !
    – ray
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 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


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

  • 1
    A corpus search might reveal something. Or it might not. Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 18:51

Seem = denotes how something looks or seems to look
Appear = Used to talk about facts and events describing an observable condition; shows that the opinion is based on a general visual impression.

The major difference between ‘seem’ and ‘appear’ is the ‘certainty-uncertainty’ effect. With ‘seem’, the observer exhibits the uncertainty while with ‘appear’, the uncertainty is exhibited by the attributes of the observed person or thing which can also be deceptive:

It seems crazy that we should do it all over again. √
It seems a best bet to take a taxi to the airport. √
It appears crazy that we should do it all over again. ✗

Source: https://grammarforexperts.com/seem-vs-appear-seem-to-be-happy-vs-appear-to-be-happy/

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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