General Writing and Grammar Help/it seems to me


QUESTION: Dear Ms Balliett,

Can you please help me with the expression:  “it seems to me”

Is this an allowable expression?

For example, is it allowable to say:  
“It seems to me that I know you.”

Can you also please tell me if  “to me” is a prepositional phrase used to modify the verb “seems”  in this sentence.

Thank you



ANSWER: In your example: "It seems to me that I know you" is an incorrect choice.

The proper question is: " You are familiar to me." or: "I feel that I know you" or: " Have we met before? I feel as though we know one another somehow."

Anything other than "seems to me" in this scenario. "Seems to me" is an opinion, and to think you might have met someone before to have known him, is not an opinion. It is a possibility or fact, but not opinionated.


seem  (sm)
intr.v. seemed, seem·ing, seems

1. To give the impression of being; appear: The child seems healthy, but the doctor is concerned.
2. To appear to one's own opinion or mind: I can't seem to get the story straight.
3. To appear to be true, probable, or evident: It seems you object to the plan. It seems like rain. He seems to have worked in sales for several years.
4. To appear to exist: There seems no reason to postpone it.

seem [siːm]
vb (may take an infinitive)

1. (copula) to appear to the mind or eye; look this seems nice the car seems to be running well
2. to give the impression of existing; appear to be there seems no need for all this nonsense
3. used to diminish the force of a following infinitive to be polite, more noncommittal, etc. I can't seem to get through to you
[perhaps from Old Norse soma to beseem, from sœmr befitting; related to Old English sēman to reconcile; see same]
seemer  n

Synonyms: seem, appear, look: These verbs mean to present the appearance of being: seems angry; appears skeptical; looks happy.

seem(s) to be + adjective is a set phrase, and so the to be part is often omitted, like this,

You seem to be happy ~ You seem happy.
He seems to be nice ~ He seems nice.
They seem to be kind ~ They seem kind.

If you add a noun after the adjective, you can't omit 'to be' but you can replace 'to be' with 'like',

You seem to be a happy person. (OK)
You seem a happy person. (Not OK)
You seem like a happy person. (OK)

He seems to be a nice guy. (OK)
He seems a nice guy. (Not OK)
He seems like a nice guy. (OK)

They seem to be kind people. (OK)
They seem kind people. (Not OK)
They seem like kind people. (OK)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Ms Balliett,

Thank you very much for your excellent answer.

I am also trying to understand if the prepositional phrase "to me" can be placed after "it seems" as in "it seems to me"

Can I say:  "It seems to me that you object to the plan."

If "yes",   does "to me" modify the verb "seems"?

Thank you



Anything that modifies a verb is called an adverb.

Adverbs often tell when, where, why, or under what conditions something happens or happened. Adverbs frequently end in -ly; however, many words and phrases not ending in -ly serve an adverbial function and an -ly ending is not a guarantee that a word is an adverb. The words lovely, lonely, motherly, friendly, neighborly, for instance, are adjectives:

That lovely woman lives in a friendly neighborhood.

If a group of words containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb (modifying the verb of a sentence), it is called an Adverb Clause:

When this class is over, we're going to the movies.

When a group of words not containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb, it is called an adverbial phrase. Prepositional phrases frequently have adverbial functions (telling place and time, modifying the verb):

He went to the movies.
She works on holidays.
They lived in Canada during the war.

In ""It seems to me that you object to the plan" the "seems" is the verb, "it" is the noun, and "to me" is an adverb clause as well as "object" being another verb and "plan" another noun with "you" being a pronoun.

So, "to me" modifies the verb "seems" in your sentence, however, considered an adverb clause.

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Jannie Balliett


Any question relating to writing and grammar. I will repeat, questions only-- not discussions or editing. If you need editing, visit my editorial site; I do not help with homework nor English classes. This is much too involved and I will not "explain" English to non-English speakers. Please rate. If you do not rate, I will need to ban you from my expertise.


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