If I'm on a higher floor in that same building and someone down in the lobby calls me on the phone and tells me about someone who has arrived, and I were to pass that information on to someone, would it be natural to use both of these sentences? Can "it looks like" be used if I haven't seen anything myself but only been told?

It seems that we've got company down in the lobby.

It looks like we've got company down in the lobby.

  • What impression are you trying to convey? There's a place for these kinds of structures, but it seems a bit forced and unnatural in the present context. – Strawberry Jan 25 at 11:17
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    It depends on what you mean by natural — Using the phrase "It seems that we've got company" sounds like you're in a period mob film & you've noticed that you've "got a tail" (i.e. someone following you & reporting on your movements). Unless your going for colour, I'd just keep it similar: "(Bob down in) reception just called. There's someone here to see us. They're on the way up" – anotherdave Jan 25 at 13:34
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    You can also use "seems like", and it'd mean basically the same as your two examples. Though "looks that" doesn't work. Also acceptable: "appears that", any combination of "seems/looks/appears as if/though", possibly others. – Darrel Hoffman Jan 25 at 16:25

You can say "looks like" even though you have not seen the company. In this sentence "looks like" refers to the situation, not the visitor.


Your expressions are synonyms:

It looks like - it seems that (PowerThesaurus). So you can use either. The difference is that "it looks like" is more informal.

Interest was high amongst the gang, and it looks like we'll be playing again soon. (WordHippo) Here, "looks like" refers to a future event, so you definitely don't need to see it in order to use this phrase about it).

However, despite the opportunity, it seems that our leaders are still not able to materialize the dreams of reform. (WordHippo)

  • I'd also suggest the even more formal "It would seem that...". – Abion47 Jan 26 at 0:12

As others have said, the phrases are synonymous since looks like is a figure of speech (I believe it would be more correct to say looks as if), and I would say both sound natural. It comes down to your choice of tone. Do you want a colloquial/vulgar sound? Is the person speaking calm or rushed? Is the person's presence in the lobby threatening?

These questions might lead you to select one of the following or even some other structure:

  1. Seems we have company (this one is better than 2 because have is less vulgar as seems is less vulgar)
  2. Seems we got company
  3. Looks like we have company
  4. Looks like we got company (this one is better than 3 because got is more vulgar as looks like is more vulgar)
  5. It seems we have company (more calm than 1)
  6. Looks as if we have company (more calm than 3)
  7. It looks as if we have company (more calm than 6)

I would avoid putting have and got together, though, since they're redundant. Further, that is one of the most overused words in colloquial English, today, at least in America. As soon as you say it or type it, you should ask if it's necessary and try to remove it.

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    It should be emphasized that, in this answer, "vulgar" means "informal," not "profane." – Kevin Jan 25 at 19:13

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