Seem look and sound

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Language Study

Let’s take a quick look at the verb “seem.” In the song, Brad Paisley sings,

“… she seemed as lonely as could be…”

We have three verbs to express the word “parecer”:

  • Seem
  • Sound
  • Look

The verb “seem” is the real translation of “parecer” – but it is used in a more abstract way. Check out the examples:

  • That seems to be the situation (Parece que esta é a situação).
  • You don’t seem very interested (Você não parece muito interessado).

The verb “sound,” as you might have guessed, is the impression caused by something heard. Check out the examples:

  • It sounds like something has fallen (Parece que algo caiu).
  • She sounded very tired on the phone (Parecia bem cansada ao telefone).

The verb “look,” as you have probably already concluded, is the impression caused by something seen. Check out the examples:

  • You look happy (Você parece feliz).
  • It looks like it’s going to rain (Parece que vai chover).

However, many times, “look” and seem” are used interchangeably. Sound, on the other hand, is a little more specific.

Observe the difference: You seem (or sound, or look) interested (adjective); but you seem (or sound, or look) LIKE an interesting person (noun). Other situations where we need to use “like”: 

  • You look like you need a bath (Parece que você precisa de um banho)
  • You sound like you have a cold (Parece que você tá gripado)
  • It seems like (or “that”) we are going to have problems with the new program (Parece que teremos problemas com o novo programa).
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