Find is usually used when you find something like and object or something like that.

For example:

"I've found my lost wallet."

but is:

"Scientists are trying to find a cure for cancer"


If so when should I use find and when should I use find out, not just in this context, are there any rules about when I should use one or the other?

  • 3
    You find SOMETHING [an actual thing you're seeking], but you find out WHY [some assertion or situation is or isn't true]. – FumbleFingers Jan 12 at 12:57

Yes this is correct. Don't use "find out" in this example.

Scientists are trying to find a cure for cancer

"a cure" is a noun, and it's a thing which can be found. It may not be a physical object, so to speak, but it's still a noun. You can nearly always use to find + noun. One can "find love", or "find happiness" too!

"To find out" means "to ascertain/discern" or "to discover information (about someone/something". There is a sense here of attempting to get to the truth, or find a definitive answer/information about someone/something.

"Find out" is usually followed by the words: that, if, how, when, where, what, who, why, etc. Sometimes "that" can be omitted, but it's still implied. Also note that "find out" is quite informal, but it is commonly used in everyday English.

For example:

It took me several days to find out [that] she was sick.

They want to find out who he is.

The government must find out why this has happened.

The police are trying to find out if a murder has been committed.

Astronomers are trying to find out how old the universe is.

It's also possible to say "to find someone/something out". This means to reveal the truth about someone/something.

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