Look what you've done this time.

Look at what you've done this time.

Now, is using the preposition wrong here? How does one know when to follow look with at, and when not to?

What about these constructions :

Look (at) how much damage you've done. Just look (at) how good my car looks.

  • 1
    In common speech (but not in formal writing) "at" can be omitted when some question words follow look, especially in the imperative mood (as in your examples.) "Look how much you ate!" "Look where you're going." "Look who you danced with." – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 19 '16 at 18:25

Look (at) in your example is used with to attract attention to a possible problem or danger. The preposition "at" is generally omitted before when, what, why etc:

  • pay attention:

    • [intransitive, transitive] to pay attention to something look (at something)

    • Look at the time! We're going to be late.

    • Look where, what, etc… Can't you look where you're going?*


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