"I look forward to hearing from you" vs "I'm looking forward to hearing from you."

Discussion in 'English Only' started by majlo, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. Hello,
    The following is about "I look forward to hearing from you." and "I'm looking forward to hearing from you." and its differences.

    How would you opine on that? Do you agree or not?

    "Actually, the register has nothing to do with it! The difference is how the speaker perceives their own words:
    an action seen as a whole/accomplished (I look forward...) or continuing (I am looking...).

    Unless very self-aware or possibly an English teacher, an ordinary native speaker will be unable to explain their choice between the two and so the difference between a mental impression (I look forward) and a mental activity (I'm looking forward). In such cases, attempting to explain these subtleties to your students may prove counterproductive, unless of course they're advanced enough to handle it.
    It is my policy, that until then they're perfectly fine knowing there is no real difference there."
     
  2. Tabac Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest (USA)
    U. S. - English
    It might well prove to be counterproductive to attempt to explain these subtleties to a native speaker, such as myself. I see no difference.
     
  3. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    If you used "I look forward" in one sentence and "I'm looking forward" in the next, I bet no English speaker would even be aware of the change.

    Therefore, I agree with the quoted text.
     
  4. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I don't know that "mental impression" and "mental activity" is a valid distinction between the two. To me, "I look forward to your reply" is a set phrase at the end of a letter that means "the next action is yours, and I am operating under the impression that you will take it." (Maybe that's what is meant by "mental impression".) "I'm looking forward to your reply" is an expression of something you actually feel - a sense of anticipation about their response.

    I would not use "I look forward to your reply" in any setting other than a formal letter. It has a distinct meaning that has nothing to do with feelings, in my opinion.
     
  5. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    I agree completely with JamesM: the usage is governed solely by context.

    "I look forward to hearing from you" is a business-context formula to me; I would not use it in another context. In fact, in personal letter or email, I would go out of my way to change the wording somewhat ("I'm hoping I hear from you before I leave for vacation" or, more informally, "Hope to hear from you...") to distance the expression from the formula.
     
  6. argentina84

    argentina84 Senior Member

    Göteborg, Sweden
    Argentina Spanish
    Oh! Look what I have found here! I had been taught that "look forward to" was formal register and that "looking forward to" was the informal one!
     
  7. Olivaise New Member

    American English
    I thought it over and I came to a realization after talking to my friends about it too. As myself, they seem to say, "I look forward..." to close friends and family, while the other to strangers or those people that are not so close.

    Simply a meager observation. I'm still unsure about it.
     
  8. argentina84

    argentina84 Senior Member

    Göteborg, Sweden
    Argentina Spanish

    So it should be the other way around?

    That is:
    look forward to: informal
    looking forward to: formal

    Thanks!
     
  9. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I disagree. That may be Olivaise's personal experience but I wouldn't generalize it to all people.

    I would not write "I'm looking forward to your reply" in a business letter. I would write in a personal letter. I would not write "I look forward to your reply" in a personal letter; it would sound legalistic and cold, in my opinion. I would write it in a business letter as a standard formulaic closing.
     
  10. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I think it sounds cold because it does not clearly express actual feelings.

    "I look forward to <something>" says either that I expect it or that I have a habit of looking forward to it. The meaning is diffuse and distanced from immediate feelings.

    But "I am looking forward to <something>" says that I am anticipating it with gladness. The feelings are up front and personal.
     
  11. Olivaise New Member

    American English
    I guess this a fairly subjective topic, so one is unable to truly stereotype it.
     
  12. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I vote with those who say

    "I look forward to" is businesslike, unemotional, formal

    "I'm looking forward to" is friendly, warm, less formal.

    Loob
     
  13. sarahjuanita Junior Member

    England, English
    I agree with Loob. 'looking forward' definitely sounds more friendly and informal to me.

    I couldn't imagine saying to any of my friends - 'I look forward to your party this weekend' - and I think if I did they may well think I wasn't being very sincere!
     
  14. camaysar Senior Member

    usa
    usa, english
    To add another aspect:

    If I want to sound informal, I would not say or write "I am looking forward to hearing from you" but always "I'm ...". This is not an issue of correct usage, just a matter of convention. "I'm" sounds personal, less formal, and this is in keeping with the view that "I'm looking forward..." is less formal than "I look forward...."

    If I used "I am looking forward..." it would still sound formal, compared to "I'm looking forward....", but less formal than "I look forward". But this is obvious... contractions are less formal.
     
  15. Olivaise New Member

    American English
    Well, don't ever quote me verbatim. I mean, it's more of context that insinuates which one will be used. I just found that amongst my friends that those results were prominent.

    Sorry for any misunderstanding.
     
  16. Olivaise New Member

    American English
    I really couldn't see myself saying that at all. My comment would be more along the lines of, "I'm pumped/ready/excited/ecstatic for this weekend."

    Or something that fits into that colloquial genre.
     
  17. SandroIlSardo Junior Member

    Alghero
    Italy Italian
    Hi WR,

    if writing to a friend, can I change the last part of the sentence with another expression? I mean:

    "I'm looking forward to getting your next letter"

    instead of

    "I'm looking forward to hearing from you" ?

    Thanks
    Alessandro
     
  18. SandroIlSardo Junior Member

    Alghero
    Italy Italian
    I would like to add another quick thing:

    What do you use instead of I'm looking forward to hearing from you? Something unusual will be nice!
     
  19. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    If it's informal, you could write, "Can't wait to hear from you" or "I'll be checking my mailbox/inbox each day for your next letter/email" or simply "Write soon!"
     
  20. SandroIlSardo Junior Member

    Alghero
    Italy Italian
    Thanks Thomas
    It helps
     
  21. HELLAL New Member

    Bahasa Indonesia
    I think. I am looking forward to hearing from you is stronger than I look forward to hearing from you.


    Thanks
     
  22. Colonel_Potato New Member

    American English
    I know I'm eight years late to this thread, but here's what I think.

    I feel as though "I look forward to <topic>" is more formal than "I am looking forward to <topic>", but I would rather hear the latter while reading a business letter. It feels more warm and friendly; it feels more as though I'm communicating with an actual human. Just dropping five letters from the sentence ("am" and "ing") causes it to lose meaning, and it feels more cold and stiff.

    Remember, these are just my opinions. There isn't an actual difference, which I'm aware of, between the two in the English language.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2014

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