1. We are seeking (looking for) people skilled in mathematics.

  2. A different life from this one.

How we should place the adjective complements correctly, I mean how to distinguish that we should use pattern 1 or 2?

I know that below structures are wrong:

    • We are seeking (looking for) skilled people in mathematics .
    • We are seeking (looking for) skilled in mathematics people .
    • A different from this one life .

Q1 : Is there any specific rule that can help me categorize these sentences; For example, I say: " Ok, I want to be understood and discerned in this way so, I must use pattern 1(2) " or "Since there is Past participle I must do like what has been done in 1"

Q2 : If the answer of the Q1 is No, then I must memorize how many phrases ? It is annoying for an English learner.


  • 1
    I'd rather use "A life different from this one" for (2). Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 13:10
  • 2
    Also, use of for after the verb seek is unconventional. Usually no preposition is needed for it. Should be "We are seeking people ..." Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 13:11
  • Give me one grammatically correct example where 'seek' is used with 'for' please. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 14:37
  • 1
    @goldilocks. Yes, I thought of a similar example, but in that case 'an item' is the direct object and 'for you' is indirect one. In all examples given there are no indirect objects, I think. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 15:19
  • 1
    @Cardinal What I did find was Consent sought for....is... That phrase is in the passive, consent is sought and the for-phrase is the goal for which that consent is sought.
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Seek for is not idiomatic English and is a contamination of to look for and to seek. You seek something or you seek to do something, but the preposition for is not normally used in combination with the verb seek. You could say:

  • We are seeking people skilled in mathematics.
  • We are looking for people skilled in mathematics.

Here is an example of seek + to infinitive:

We seek to expand our collection.

In your second sentence, the adjective different should follow life, because from this one modifies different and not life. Therefore, you should attach it to the adjective instead of splitting the postmodifier into a pre- and postmodifier by putting life in between:

A life different from this one.

There is a difference in usage for pre- and postmodifiers. Premodifiers precede the main noun of your phrase and are normally not too long. Having a long premodifier makes it more difficult to read the phrase. Often, long modifiers are put after the main noun as a postmodifier (although in scientific writing you can still find long premodifiers).

In your example different from this one is a rather long phrase, which is why you should use it as a postmodifier rather than a premodifier. If you only use the adjective different, you can use that as a premodifier. Simple adjectives are often put in the premodifier and longer phrases, such as relative clauses, are used as postmodifiers.

So, in your phrase with skilled, avoid a long premodifier:

We are seeking people skilled in mathematics.

In any case, do not split your adjective from other phrases that are modifying it:

We are seeking skilled people in mathematics.

In the above sentence, skilled still modifies people, but in mathematics no longer modifies skilled. As a result, you're saying that in mathematics is the location where you will be looking for skilled people.

Both of your sentences with long premodifiers sound odd. If you have no postmodifier, don't put in a long premodifier. You could perhaps make your premodifier slightly longer if your postmodifier is already terribly long, but in general the premodifier restricts itself often to just some adjectives, except for scientific writing as I mentioned earlier:

  • We seek a much more pleasant life different from this one.
  • We seek a much more pleasant life that is totally different from this one.
  • We seek extraordinarily qualified people skilled in mathematics.
  • We seek extraordinarily qualified people who are skilled in mathematics.

Note how the premodifier more or less restricts itself to adjectives (and adverbs) while relative clauses, gerunds and other phrases often go in the postmodifier. In all four of the sentences above, the premodifier could be moved and used as a postmodifier whereas it would not really work the other way around.

Additionally, it sounds rather odd to mention from this one before you mention life.

In short, don't make your premodifier too long, it will not improve readability. Restrict it to mostly adjectives and perhaps adverbials modifying those adjectives. Longer phrases should go in the postmodifier.

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