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For example if in answer to the question, "what time does the shop close?" a tourist information officer might say, "I'll check on that for you."

Why wouldn't they say, "I'll check that for you."?

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  • I think officer would answer: "please, one moment; I check quickly"
    – user19148
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 8:14
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    @Carlo_R. That's not what a native speaker would say. To sound more authentic one could say "One moment, please. I'll quickly check[[ on that] for you]." Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 9:19
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    @Matt - the officer might not be a native speaker :-)
    – user16269
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 9:38

4 Answers 4

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Check means to examine (something) in order to determine its accuracy, quality, or condition. Check on is a phrasal verb that means verify, ascertain, or monitor the state or condition of.

It's a subtle difference between the two, and, in the example you gave, I think either could be applied.

If you asked me which one was more correct, I think I'd vote for check, rather than check on, but that was only after consulting a dictionary. Most tourist officers aren't that careful with their words before checking up on the hours of a village shop.

Oh, check up on means investigate in order to establish the truth about or accuracy of, which is, I suppose, another way of saying (nearly) the same thing.

Ref: these definitions were taken from NOAD

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  • CED for example suggests that the usages are more closely synonymous. In "I'll check/on the fuel level", I'd say they're identical in meaning. But I'd not use "I'll check John to see if he's got enough milk" or "They'll check on his passport". Differences in distribution and sense are subtle, and not easy to spell out in a couple of lines. Commented May 21, 2020 at 16:51
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Check on is used to refer to verifying the legitimacy or the condition of someone or something, according to Free Dictionary.

I reckon, check is better suited in your example.

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I think both are okay. For example if I worked at a hospital, I would use check on.

The doctor is going to check on his patient in 10 minutes. Meaning to monitor his state or condition

And if I were going through a security check, I would say:

They checked all my luggages. Meaning to check or examine

But in your case, both could work unless you got very picky.

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In Brit Eng, we would say check up on smbdy/smth) when talking about a state or process.

A bare check is reserved for facts and events. Hold on, I must check if I have turned off the gas.

Check on or check up on is better for processes and states, or for a more intensive search for information. My aunt is ill, I'll go and check (up) on her later. Or I want to phone the office to check (up) on how that difficult job is going.

I am not sure that the instant quote is a good example - a bare check is enough for me as the fact is easily ascertainable.

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