Do we add for when we say seek?

Which of these is correct?

To seek something


To seek for something

  • What has your research shown?
    – Davo
    Jun 23, 2020 at 20:21
  • Answered on ELU, but I don't like the explanations.
    – wizzwizz4
    Jun 23, 2020 at 21:14
  • You can ask for help, or you can seek help. You can't seek for help. But you can look for help and you can seek for something. Jun 23, 2020 at 21:21
  • @BruceMurray Are you sure you can "seek for something?" You can "seek something for someone" but using any preposition before the thing being sought sounds very wrong to me.
    – TypeIA
    Jun 23, 2020 at 21:38
  • 1
    Seek for help is idiomatic in Indian English only. In other English regions, it's not idiomatic, and would be marked as incorrect. Jun 25, 2020 at 16:34

2 Answers 2


If you look at the dictionary entry for seek (Cambridge), you will not find one example of this verb with the preposition for. It is true that people do use seek for sometimes mistakenly, but sometimes because British English. There is proof that seek for is British, although the use with for is in decline:

enter image description here

Plus, seek for is biblical:

  • KJV Romans 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.
  • KJV Mark 3:32 Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

This site aimpublishing says plainly that:

Seek is a transitive verb that may mean to try to get something or to try to find something or someone that you need in your life. Please note that seek is not followed by the preposition for.

  • Incorrect: This book is a must read for those who are seeking for the meaning of life.
  • Correct: This book is a must read for those who are seeking the meaning of life. (Note that this is a Canadian site)

A quick look at the etymology of seek will explain why some argue that this verb contains for in its meaning:

From Old English secan "inquire, search for; pursue; long for, wish for, desire; look for, expect from. (Etymonline)

It might help to look at the etymology of beseech, too. Although it contains seek, we never tend to use beseech with for:

c. 1200, bisecen "to entreat, beg urgently," from Old English besecan; see be- + seek. "In contrast to the simple vb., in which the northern seek has displaced the southern seech, in the compound beseech has become the standard form" [OED]. (Etymonline)

My conclusion is that although the use of seek for is regarded as incorrect by many, it is not. It is simply outdated or antiquated. Shakespeare used it too:

Wee'l hunt no more to day, nor seeke for danger (We'll hunt no more today, nor seek for danger) - Cymbeline.


I find both acceptable and would not edit either. “Seek for” is a construct similar to “look for” or “seek out”: the verb is active and is directed at the object by the preposition. Hence we can seek help, seek for help, look for help, seek out help. All are correct, being clear in meaning with no ambiguity.

  • -1, see discussion in comments: "seek" is transitive and doesn't take a preposition before the thing being sought (although seek out is correct: this is a phrasal verb with a more nuanced / focused meaning than simply seek).
    – TypeIA
    Jun 24, 2020 at 11:52
  • I suggest it helpful to consider usage, lack of ambiguity, and clarity of meaning rather than to try to define an inappropriately rigid and restricted formality in which we deny the extension of language merely to maintain a grammatical status quo. “Seek” may once have been used only transitively, with a direct object, but “seek for” is now acceptable and this means that “seek” is not as transitive as it once was. Things change.
    – Anton
    Jun 25, 2020 at 12:45
  • 1
    Hear, hear! @Anton FTW! Seriously though I completely agree with you. Language has been called "...a city which we are all constructing together, and it is a city whose construction will never be finished." (RW Emerson). I may prefer some of the linguistic status quo I grew up with, but you might a well just sit back and enjoy the scenery, because you're not in the driver's seat on this journey. Nov 21, 2020 at 15:37

You must log in to answer this question.

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