“I look forward to speaking to you” and “Looking forward to speaking to you”. These are two phrases that on the surface, seem like they mean the same thing. However, even before reading this article, you will probably understand that they have different tones.
The fact you’ve clicked on this article suggests that you’re in a situation where you’re feeling a little bit confused as to which one you ought to be using. Perhaps you’re writing an important email to someone you work with, or perhaps you’re speaking to a family member who’s a bit of stickler for the correct grammar.
I look forward to speaking with you? The truth is that from a grammatical perspective, both are correct. However, the implications that come with each of these phrases can be seen differently. “I look” sounds more professional. Whereas “Looking forward” might be better for a casual setting.
In this article, we’ll be covering the difference between the two of them, and the best times for using each of them. The grammatical difference between these two is that one is present simple tense, and the other is present continuous tense. So what’s the difference between those two?
Present Simple and Present Continuous
Present simple means that something is permanent or semi-permanent. For example, if I am to say ‘I walk to work’, what I am saying is that the way I travel to work is by walking.
It would be strange to say ‘I’m walking to work in the morning’.
Present continuous relates to something that you’re doing at this exact moment (or at least something you will be doing in the near future).
For example, I might say “I’m walking to your house”. When I say this, I am saying that “the action I am currently performing is walking” to your house, and not “walking is the method I use to get from my house to yours”.
Present continuous is a more temporary tense than simple continuous. Soon you will be performing an action which is not walking to your friends house.
I look forward to speaking with you
“I look forward to speaking to you” is written in the simple present. What you saying by using this phrase is “speaking to you is something that I always looks forward to doing”. Because of this, it would be the better phrase to use when writing in a professional context.
It also implies that there is not a set date for when the speaking is going to happen. Because of the permanentness of the phrase, it gives room for the speaking to happen at any particular date or time. Respecting the fact that the person you’re talking to has other commitments.
I am looking forward to speaking with you
“I am looking forward to speaking to you” on the other hand, has a lot of opposite implications to the previous phrase. The main one being that’s it’s written in present continuous.
By using this phrase, you are essentially saying “My current state of mind is optimism about the future, and soon, it will be happiness about the present”.
Shortened down to simply ‘Looking forward to speaking to you’ makes it the better option for more casual settings, and there will usually be an agreed time and date for when this speaking is going to occur.
Another factor that separates this one from ‘I look forward’ is that it’s more definite. You’re implying that speaking to this person is something that will definitely happen, and not just something you wish to happen.
At this point, there could probably be a bit of debate as to whether or not it actually matters. I’m not going to be taking any sides here, but I will be providing the argument from both perspectives.
When does it matter which phrase to use?
When you’re writing a letter or email in a professional context, you want to make sure that you sound as formal and polite as possible, particularly when you’re talking to a manager or investor.
If you say to someone “I’m looking forward to speaking to you” in this context, there are two unprofessional things you’re implying.
The first one is that whilst you’re looking forward to speaking to them this time, you’re dreading the time after that.
The second is that their time is not as valuable as theirs, and therefore they are obligated to be talking to you.
When doesn’t it matter which phrase to use?
However, it could also be argued that it doesn’t really matter. How many of you would be offended if you received an email that said ‘Looking forward to speaking to you?’. Probably not many.
As long as the intention of your communication is clearly positive and hopeful, the exact phrasing of it is irrelevant.
I don’t want anybody to be thinking that simple present is always professional.
For example, you might say to a friend, over a cup of coffee, “I drink 7 cups of this stuff a day’. Clearly, there is nothing formal about this phrase on the context in which it is said. However it’s still using the present simple, implying that drinking 7 cups of coffee daily is something which happens on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.
Likewise, continuous present doesn’t always need to be casual.
For example, in an email to your boss your might write ‘I’m travelling to the supplier as we speak’. Clearly, this is a phrase that sounds professional.
However, what you’re saying is “The action I am currently performing is travelling. Soon, I will be performing a different action”.
As great as it would be to simply say “Use simple present in professional settings, and continuous present in casual settings, the truth is that it’s not that sample.
Each sentence that falls into either category will depend on other factors (such as topic matter or urgency) to determine if it’s casual or professional.
When you first hear the two phrases “I look forward to speaking with you” and “I am looking forward to speaking with you”, you might think that they mean exactly the same thing, and therefore can be used interchangeably.
And whilst you wouldn’t be completely wrong, the implications that come with each of these phrases can be seen differently.
“I look” sounds more professional. Whereas “Looking forward” might be better for a casual setting.
However the rules of simple present and continuous present as not that simple.
Whilst there might not be a right or wrong answer, it’s certainly interesting to consider, whether to use “I look forward to speaking with you” vs. “I am looking forward to speaking with you”.