"Looks daggers" or "look daggers": which one is correct?

Ngram results here show almost equal results but when I searched for He looks daggers or He look daggers, I didn't find any matches.

For example:

1) John look daggers at Mike.

2) John looks daggers at Mike.

I'm not sure whether the first example is grammatically correct or it should be written like the second example, and the Ngram doesn't show any matches.

  • 2
    John look daggers at Mike is just plain wrong. The verb to look is perfectly regular, as are the vast majority of English words. I look, you look, she looks, John looks. But as Mari-Lou A says, you wouldn't normally use to look daggers in Simple Present anyway. Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 1:15

1 Answer 1


It is more common to use either the past or the present continuous tense, as testified by these online dictionaries:

Tom must have been mad at Ann from the way he was looking daggers at her.

I could see my partner looking daggers at me.

And here are the results at Ngram Viewer comparing "Looking daggers at", "Looked daggers at" and "Looks daggers at" The third person present simple is tiny in comparison:

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  • Additionally, glaring daggers is much more idiomatic than looking daggers.
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 1:28
  • 1
    @WendiKidd♦: It just makes it onto the radar over the last 20-30 years, but I don't see glare overtaking look any time soon. Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 3:26
  • @FumbleFingers Huh, interesting! I'd honestly never heard looking daggers before I came across this question, I'd only heard glaring. Funny what common things aren't common in some places!
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 4:01
  • @WendiKidd I was going to ask if "glaring" was British, since I had never heard it, and I mean not once. But I see you're from Dallas. So, hmm. Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 7:00
  • @WendiKidd: I think both variations are seriously "dated". I can imagine my mother saying someone was looking daggers at someone else. But she's well into her 80s. Google shows only 47 hits for that on the whole Internet in the past year. It's also a bit "literary" (almost 7000 instances in Google Books). Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 13:22

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