What is the difference between these two:

1- It seems water.
2- It seems to be water.

  • 2
    It's not at all duplicate of the previous question that was seem + adjective and this one is seem + noun.
    – Khan
    May 30 '16 at 14:13
  • 2
    I'd say it's not a duplicate, because this question is specifically asking about an unadorned noun following seems. May 30 '16 at 14:28
  • @Khan It is a duplicate as the top answer explains both "seem (to be) + adjective" and "seem (to be) + noun". I don't think your answer is right.
    – user24743
    May 30 '16 at 15:13
  • @Rathony, I don't think it's a duplicate. The previous answers cover the use of seem (to be) + adjective/adjective + noun. They don't talk about seem + noun.
    – Khan
    May 31 '16 at 5:25
  • @Khan The second example is "She seems a nice girl" and fourth example is "The village seems a nice place for a holiday". What else can we add to this answer? You mentioned "if you want to use seem in front of a noun, you should use a to-infinitive." it could mislead users into believing that you should always use a to-infinitive.
    – user24743
    May 31 '16 at 5:29

Seem is one of common link verbs (like be, appear, look, sound, smell, taste, feel, become, get) and it can be followed by adjectives only:

The weather is horrible.

The dish tasted delicious.

She seems excited.

Nouns can be used after seem only when it is followed by to be:

He doesn't seem to be a coward.

Or by like, which sometimes can be omitted:

It seems (like) a good place to spend the rainy night.

Also: It seems to be the place to spend a rainy night.

"It seems water* sounds most awkward to me, in comparison with "It looks (tastes, feels. ets) like water.

  • 3
    +0.9 I don't think that seems followed by a modified noun implies seems (like) -- it's just as likely to imply seems (to be): "He seems {to be/like} an honest man." The two are to my mind pretty much equivalent, except that like is more colloquial. May 30 '16 at 10:51

Seem is a linking verb that's usually followed by an adjective and an adjective + noun such as:

He seems nice.

He seems a nice man.

You can also use 'to be' after seem in these sentences, without any difference in meaning, such as:

He seems to be nice.

He seems to be a nice man.

However, if you want to use seem in front of a noun, you should use a to-infinitive. So the sentence should be as follows:

It seems to be water.

  • Do you mean "He seems a nice man" is wrong?
    – user24743
    May 30 '16 at 15:09
  • I didn't say that; he seems a nice man isn't wrong.
    – Khan
    May 31 '16 at 4:57

You asked using the structure of seem + noun. Yes, it's possible!


seen + noun: He seems a nice man.

No difference in those two sentences ('seems to be something' is also possible). However, I feel that the latter structure is more common. It also looks better to me as compared to the previous one.

  • 3
    I think the OALD has over-simplified this. "He seems nice" is common and idiomatic BrE, But "he seems a man" is not. In "He seems a nice man", "man" is almost tautological "noise". I can't think of any common usage of "He/she/it seems [+ article] + noun" without an adjective.
    – alephzero
    May 30 '16 at 13:23
  • @alephzero “It seems an improvement.”
    – HappyFace
    Sep 8 '19 at 9:31

Both appears to be correct

It seems water


It seems to be water

But personally, I'd prefer the latter as it sounds more appropriate and complete. If you go with the example you could see that, "It"(something) "seems to be"(looks like/appears to be) "water".

  • Look at this link for more understanding Click this May 30 '16 at 9:29
  • But missing there, is an adjective, while I have used a noun!
    – Abbasi
    May 30 '16 at 9:32
  • It's just a reference for more clarification and detail. With respect to your question I have already answered. :) May 30 '16 at 9:37
  • 1
    Really, if you said It seems water to me, I would give you a look. I can't tell you why It seems water sounds wrong to me, while It seems a good idea is okay. (Even though It seems like/to be NOUN would sound better, generally.) May 30 '16 at 10:29

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