Is it incorrect to use "looks like" followed by "may"? Example:

Looks like you may have to do that.
Looks like it may rain.

Instead of:

Looks like you have to do that.
Looks like it will rain.


There is no problem in using a "may" in this position.

Your examples are grammatically correct and idiomatic.

The style is quite casaul. In formal writing you would not use this kind of expression. A more formal alternative could be:

It appears likely to rain. (or similar)


The sentences ARE idiomatic, but ARE NOT grammatically correct.

The word may is used to indicate the uncertainty of a future event. "It looks like it may rain," indicates that the clouds are there, but we are not certain if they will produce rain. Might can also be used the same way.

Beginning the sentence with looks is shorthand, but the grammatically correct way to write, or say, the sentence is to begin with it. It is the subject, and is the indicator of the logic for the rest of the sentence.

Shorthand is fine for speaking, but use the more formal language when writing.

  • There is a difference between "informal" and "ungrammatical" or "incorrect". Leaving out pronouns that can be inferred from the context happens a lot in English. – ColleenV Feb 20 '19 at 16:42

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