Blog reader Annemarie asks:
For a while now, I have been wondering whether I should write ‘I look forward to [doing something]’ or ‘I’m looking forward to [doing something]’. In all my English lessons, the first option was clearly the correct one. But lately, I have heard and read the second more and more often. Which should I use?
The distinction is subtle and mostly one of formality. ‘I look forward to’ is more formal, and typically the way you’d sign off in a business correspondence. It implies that you’re expecting the next action to come from the recipient of your letter or email. ‘I am looking forward to’ is less formal, and more likely to be the phrase of choice when speaking or writing to a friend. It implies you’re referring to a more definite upcoming event.
Having said that, it’s quite likely that the two phrases will become increasingly interchangeable. Or, more likely still, that ‘I’m looking forward to’ will be used more often – particularly in email, which tends to encourage a more informal tone.
So while they are grammatically different (‘I look forward [to hearing from you]’ is simple present tense, while ‘I am looking forward [to hearing from you]’ is present continuous), they are both grammatically correct.
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60-second fix: complimentary and complementary
This is one of the trickiest homophones to remember, partly because the spellings are only one letter apart, and partly because there is no good reason for the difference (both stem from the Latin complere, meaning ‘to fill up’), writes Cathy Relf. Sadly, ours is not to reason why, but simply to learn the difference: […]
16 / 10 / 15
60-second fix: Do you write Kind regards or Kind Regards?
When you’ve finished an email, all you need is a friendly, professional sign off. And there’s one popular choice. That choice is ‘Kind regards’. For most work emails, it’s hard to go wrong with this. It’s succinct and it’s professional. Yet every week, I get emails from people who sign off like this: ‘Kind Regards’. So […]