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21 English Phrasal Verbs With ‘Look’

How many phrasal verbs with ‘look’ do you know? In this study guide, you can read about 20 different phrasal verbs, many of them with more than one meaning. You will find a definition and a clear example for each one. Read the example sentences and learn what it means to ‘look up to someone’, to ‘look in on someone’ and to ‘look after someone’! Remember to test your understanding with the exercises at the end.

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  1. To take care of someone.
    I looked after my little sister when my parents went out.
    Take care! Look after yourself!
  2. To think of yourself.
    I don’t think he cares about other people. He’s just looking after his own interests.


  1. To think about something that will happen in the future.
    I’m not thinking about this term now. I’m looking ahead to next year when I’ll be at university.


  1. To turn your head.
    I was trying to walk quietly past Gemma, but she looked around and saw me.
    The dog looked round and saw me. Then it started barking!
  2. To visit something to see what is there.
    I’m excited because I’m going to look around a new house tomorrow. If I like it, I’ll buy it!
    We’re looking around for a new house in this area.
    Shop assistant: Can I help you?
    Customer: No, I’m just looking around.


  1. To read something quickly.
    Look at chapter one again and tell me why the man was wearing a blue hat.
  2. To face or accept something.
    John knows he should not have stolen the car. He is looking at a long jail sentence.
  3. To think carefully about something or to consider it.
    We’re looking at the possibility of employing more teachers next year.


  1. To stop looking at someone deliberately.
    I saw Linda in the shop but she looked away. I think she is still annoyed with me.


  1. To look behind you.
    If you look back you can see the city in the distance. 
  2. To think about the past.
    I look back on my childhood as a happy time in my life.Looking back to the nineteenth century, we can see that the standard of living was low.
  3. To look again at something you read or wrote earlier.
    OK everyone, please look back through your notes.
    You need to look back at the exercises you did last week. 


  1. To behave as if you are more important than another person.
    David always looks down on Peter because he lives in a bigger house than him.
    I think Sally always looks down on me – just because she became a lawyer, and I didn’t. 


  1. To search for something.
    ‘Can I help you? Are you looking for something?’ ‘Yes, I think I lost my ring near here.’
    ‘Are you happy at work?’ ‘No, I’m looking for a new job.’
  2. To hope for something.
    We will be looking for an improvement in your sales figures this year.
Two of the phrasal verbs in this list are opposites. If you LOOK UP TO someone you admire them. This could be someone you know, like an older brother, or a famous person, for example: ‘I’ve always looked up to my dad. He is very intelligent.’ The phrasal verb to LOOK DOWN ON someone suggests that you think you are more important than the other person. We often say this about a person who believes they are superior to someone else, for example: ‘Michael is a bit arrogant. He always seems to look down on people who earn less money than him’. 


  1. To be happy about an event in the future.
    I’m really looking forward to the party tomorrow night.
    How do you feel about your job interview? Well, I’m not really looking forward to it. 


  1. To visit someone briefly to check they are ok.
    Sarah, I’m a bit worried about grandma. I haven’t seen her for four days.
    Don’t worry. I’ll look in on her when I drive to the shops.


  1. To investigate something.
    Do you know who stole your car? No, the police are looking into it. 


  1. To see what is happening but not do anything to help.
    When the old man fell over, two women ran over to help him, but everyone else just looked on.


  1. To have an opinion about another person.
    I’ve always looked on Susan as a really good friend.


  1. To be careful.
    Look out! There is a car coming.
    You should look out when you cross the road.
  2. To search for something from your own possessions.
    Have you got anything I can give to the charity shop?
    Yes, I will look out some clothes for you.
    Have you found them yet?
    No I am still looking them out. 
A few of the phrasal verbs in this list can be made into nouns. An ONLOOKER is a person who is observing a situation, but not involved in it. A LOOKOUT is someone who is watching for danger. Some criminals may use a ‘lookout’ to let them know if the police are coming. You can also tell someone that you will give their work a LOOKOVER, meaning that you will check it for them. You can also visit your friend in their new house for a ‘LOOK AROUND’.


  1. To try to find something or someone.
    You need to look out for a sharp turning on your left.
    I’ll look out for you near the ticket office.
  2. To make sure someone is cared for.
    They had a hard time growing up, but she always looked out for her little sister.


  1. To look in the direction of the person speaking.
    Pete knows I am here. He just looked over at me.
  2. To check something.
    Can you check my essay for me? Yes I’ll look over it later.
    How was it? I am still looking it over. 



Look round is used in exactly the same way as ‘look around’.

To look at something to see what is there.
Do you want to look round your new school?

  1. To deliberately ignore someone.
    I waved to Daisy, but she just looked through me. 
  2. To read or check something.
    Can you look through your notes and decide which solution is best?
  3. To search or check something.
    The security staff looked through her bag, but they didn’t find anything.


  1. To consider something. (formal)
    We are looking to expand the business in the next two years.
    The company is looking to increase its sales volume next year.
  2. To rely on another person.
    We’ve always looked to our father for advice.
    I’ve always looked to John to sort out the finances.




  1. To raise your eyes.
    Sarah looked up when she heard the door open.
  2. To check a fact or piece of information.
    You need to look up that word in the dictionary if you don’t know it.
    Can you look up how many books I have borrowed, please?
    Where is his phone number? It’s ok, I’m just looking it up.
  3. To describe a situation that is improving.
    Peter has got himself a new job and a nice house. Things are looking up for him.
    The weather looks much nicer next week. Things are looking up!
  4. To find someone’s address and visit them.
    You should look me up when you next come to London.
    Yes, I will!
    I looked Sue up when I went to Edinburgh. It was really nice to see her.


  1. To admire someone.
    He really looks up to his older brother. Well, he has been very successful.
    Which footballer do you most look up to? 


Exercises: phrasal verbs with ‘look’

Fill in the back spaces with the options a-c below 

  1. Look _______! There is a car coming!
    a. on  b. off   c. out
  2. Have the police found out who burgled your house yet? No, they are looking ______________ it.
    a. on   b. to   c. into
  3. David’s company has had a really good year. They are now looking ___________ take on more staff in January.
    a. on   b. to   c. in
  4. So, looking _____________ to next year, do you think you will apply for a promotion
    a. ahead   b. on   c. in
  5. The fire inspectors are looking ________________ the building.
    a. on   b. back   c. around
  6. He’s had a successful year at school. Yes, things are looking ___________ for him.
    a. on   b. up   c. down
  7. I know there were some problems with the hotel, but I think it was a really good holiday when I look ______________ on it now.
    a. back   b. in   c. down

Match questions 8-14 with the answers a-g

  1. Do you respect your brother?
  2. Did you enjoy secondary school?
  3. Are you excited about your holiday?
  4. Did Sue talk to you at the party?
  5. Are you going to buy something in that shop?
  6. Are you close to Joe?
  7. Do you know what that word means?


  1. No, I’m going to look it up in a dictionary.
  2. Yes, I look on him as one of my best friends.
  3. Yes, I have always looked up to him.
  4. I don’t think so. I’m just going to look around.
  5. When I look back on it, it wasn’t too bad!
  6. No, she just looked straight through me.
  7. Yes, I’m really looking forward to it.


Complete the missing phrasal verbs using the particles below. Use each letter a-f once only.
a. for     b. in on    c. out for      d. after        e. around     f. forward to

Hi Sue,

How are you? My mum and dad are away this week so I have been looking _______________ (15) my little sister, Samantha. She’s been really well-behaved today, so it’s been fun. I’ve also looked  ________________ (16) my grandma a couple of times. She lives alone, so she feels lonely when my parents are away. I went to see her on my way home from work to check everything was ok. Yesterday I went into town, but I didn’t buy anything. I just looked __________ (17) the shops. I was looking _____________ (18) a new bag, but I couldn’t find one. I’m really looking  ________________ (19) seeing you next week. Maybe we can go for a meal together. I’ll meet you at the station. Shall we meet near the ticket machines? I’ll look  _______________ (20) you at about twelve o’clock.

See you next week!


  1. c
  2. c
  3. b
  4. a
  5. c
  6. b
  7. a
  1. c
  2. e
  3. g
  4. f
  5. d
  6. b
  7. a
  1. d
  2. b
  3. e
  4. a
  5. f
  6. c
Click here to download this post via our mobile website!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Written by Judith P.
— ESL Tutor
Written by Judith P.
— ESL Tutor