The title says it all, but I am repeating it here. Here is the sentence.

I looked upon them for inspiration.

Is this grammatically correct ? Is there a better alternative ?

  • 4
    The usual preposition here is to: "I look to them for inspiration". Aug 18, 2017 at 15:04
  • 2
    Like @StoneyB said, "I look to them" means that you get inspiration from them. While "upon" is also technically correct, people wouldn't really say it that way.
    – Aric
    Aug 18, 2017 at 15:08

2 Answers 2


The prepositions here are tricky and, even as a native English speaker, I don’t see any logic to them.

“I looked to them for inspiration.”

means they were my source of inspiration.

“I looked upon them as inspiration.”

means I classified them as inspiration (maybe not for me).

“I looked upon them for inspiration.”

is a slightly archaic way of saying that the reason I looked at them (literally, with my eyes) was to get inspiration.


Look on/upon someone - Both mean the same! In the example that you have quoted, wrt the context, I would say, 'I looked upon them for inspiration' simply means that you looked for inspiration in them. When you say, 'I look to them for inspiration', it means almost the same. Here, it sounds like When you need inspiration you look to them. The stress is on 'when you need' I could be wrong.

  • These are idiomatic expressions with very little logic. The expression “to look to X for Y” means to rely on Y as a source for X but does not imply literally looking at X (with your eyes). You might say for example “I look to the law for protection.” or “She looks to her doctor for medical advice.” The expression “to look upon X as Y” means to classify X as a type of Y for example “I look upon you as my friend.” The expression “to look upon X for Y” has no idiomatic meaning and so defaults to the literal meaning of looking with ones eyes.
    – smatterer
    Aug 22, 2017 at 2:51

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