1. Am I looked taller?
  2. Do I look taller?

Which one is correct if I want to know that I currently look taller?

Because my friend said that the first one is correct and she said that it's the passive form, and actually she translate it from Bahasa Indonesia from this sentence "Apakah saya terlihat tinggi?" and she said that the English translation is "Am I looked taller?".

  • 2
    Your friend is wrong. An easy rule of thumb: If the statement uses to be, the question should use to be. If it uses any other verb, the question should use to do. For example: I am tall. / Am I tall? but I look tall. / Do I look tall? (This rule isn't perfect, but it will help.)
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 14:34
  • 1
    Your friend is confusing the English passive construction with the way Indonesian constructions work. They're not the same. In English look is an intransitive sense verb and therefore can't occur in the passive construction (which is limited to transitive clauses); so *I am looked is ungrammatical right from the start. Another confusing factor is that looked taller and look taller sound almost identical; at normal speech rates the -ed would disappear. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:15
  • Apakah saya terlihat tinggi is not even idiomatic in your native language, you should've probably said "Apakah saya kelihatan tinggi" Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:38
  • @JohnLawler Actually, in Indonesia, terlihat tinggi is not even grammatical. That's so unfortunate that they aren't even fluent in their own native language. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:41
  • I just have to add that I think it's really cool that ELL has multiple speakers of Indonesian. I mean it's not even in the top 20 most commonly spoken languages in the US, as far as I can tell - there are apparently more people who speak Navajo at home - and while I'm sure that ELL contains more linguists than most places, it's still pretty amazing that people can address questions in almost any questioner's original language.
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 18:24

3 Answers 3


*Am I looked taller?
(the * indicates it's ungrammatical)

This sentence is ungrammatical. Something like "Am I looked at?" is grammatical, but means an entirely different thing from what you aim to convey. It's questioning whether someone is looking at you, not how you look. In other words, the problem here is "look" just can't be used that way, and there are a million different justifications that can be made for that.

If you want to use a 'be' verb, you can say something like

Am I taller than when we last met?

Do I look taller?

This is grammatical. 'look' is a lexical verb, i.e., a normal verb. When you try to turn a statement with a lexical verb but no modals (will, would, might etc.) into a question, you insert a 'do' or one of its forms in the beginning which doesn't have a meaning (it's required, but it doesn't have a separate meaning).


It can't be passive.

I built (the house).
(The house) was built by me.

I look taller (     ).
(     )

There is no passive form.


English has a thing called "emphatic form" which is do + {infinitive form of verb}. When used in a statement (not a question) it serves to emphasize.

I did go to the park.

This form is required in questions, unless the verb is to be. There is no emphasis in this case, it's just part of indicating a question. (There are additional rules when modals or have is involved that I'm omitting for simplicity)

I walked my dog in the park.

Did you walk your dog in the park?

I like candy.

Do you like candy?

I am going to sleep.

Are you going to sleep?

I'm John.

Is he John?

So, the "question form" of I look taller is Do I look taller?.

Now, if your original statement was I am looking taller, then you can ask Am I looking taller? works. but Am I looked taller? does not.

  • Nah, I don't think the 'do' in the questions is used for emphasis. Or maybe I read your answer the wrong way.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:23
  • It's not used for emphasis in questions, but it's the name of the form.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 15:24
  • "I did do" is emphatic-do, but "did I do" is do-support. Can you please edit so I can finally upvote? :)
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 16:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .