Some phrases in the English language provide us with information. Others don’t actually tell us anything, but we say them out of politeness.
One sentence that stands in a grey area between the two types of phrases is “I’ll look into it”. Sometimes, people mean it, sometimes they don’t.
What does “I will look into it” actually mean?
“I will look into it” means “I will find out the answer to your question or find out more information for you”. Most of the time, when we say it, we don’t actually mean it, and we just want to seem polite.
In this article, I want to examine why we have phrases that don’t mean anything and how you can tell if the person saying it actually means it.
When people might say “I will look into it”
“I’ll look into it” can be said in either a personal or professional situation.
People may say it when you ask them a question they don’t know the answer to. Instead of making up an answer, they will get back to you when they have a proper one.
When you ask someone for their opinion on a topic they don’t know about, “I’ll look into it” is their way of saying they will learn more about it.
And when you state a fact that someone is sceptical about, they might say “I’ll look into it” as a way of saying they will do research to see how accurate the fact is.
Why do people say “I will look into it”
One of the main reasons people say “I’ll look into it” is to show that they are interested in what you’re talking about. They are willing to take some time out to look into something so they can better understand what you were talking about.
It also shows that they don’t have enough information. Rather than having an answer or opinion on everything, “I’ll look into it” is admitting you don’t know everything. But you’re willing to learn.
It also allows the listener to know what the speaker will do to be able to help them.
Alternatives to “I will look into it”
As with most phrases, there is more than one way of saying, “I’ll look into it”. Here are some of the most popular.
“Let me find out for you”. Usually said when the information will be available within minutes.
“Hold on a tick”. Meaning that the listener will need to wait for a “tick” whilst the speaker finds out.
“I’ll ask my manager”. The speaker will find out from someone who knows more than they do.
“I’ll let you know next time”. Usually said in more casual situations, implying that the speaker will find out and let the listener know what they found out.
What “I will look into it” actually means
In principle, “I’ll let you know” means “I will find out”. But in reality, it means “I don’t care. But I can’t say that as it would be impolite”.
Telling someone, we’ll “look into it” is a quick and easy way to get them to shut up and stop asking questions. This could be because we dislike the person and want them out of the way asap, or it could be because we just don’t care about what they have to say.
How can you tell if the speaker will actually “look into it”?
This does raise the question of “how can you tell if the speaker is being sincere?” Will they actually look into it, or are they just going to forget about you?
The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I being annoying?”. If you are, chances are they don’t mean it.
You can also tell by looking at their facial expressions, their tone of voice, and how happy they are to be where they are.
Also, it might be worth seeing how busy they are with other things.
Examples of “I will look into it” in a sentence
Using phrases in a sentence can help us to better understand what they mean and the contexts in which they might be said. I want to take a look at both professional and casual contexts where you may hear, “I’ll look into it”.
Let’s start off by looking at why some people might say, “I’ll look into it for you” in a professional or business situation.
“The graph that head office sent us tells us nothing about the local area”.
“Oh, that’s not good. I’ll look into it for you”.
“Hey. There was a bit of an issue with the email you sent out this morning. That file was in a format none of us can open.”
“I do apologise. I’ll look into it and get it sorted for you”.
“Do you know what time you’ll be opening on easter?”
“I’ll look into it for you”.
But of course, it’s not just at work you’ll hear people say, “I’ll look into it”. You could also say it while talking to your friends.
“Did you hear about our new MP? He’s terrible. Don’t you agree?”
“I don’t really know about politics. But I’ll look into it”.
“Did you know that the average bear eats 10 tons of apples a month?”
“I’m not sure about that. But I’ll look into it”.
“Who’s your favourite member of one direction?”
“I’m not sure. I’ll look into it”.
The metaphors of “I will look into it”
“I’ll look into it” uses a lot of metaphorical languages. Generally speaking, “it” will be a non-physical thing such as information or a problem. Therefore, you can’t look into it, like you can look into a glass of water.
“Look into” is a phrase we use so often, we probably don’t even consider it to be metaphorical, but it is. When we look into something, we research it and find out more information.
And in this context, “it” means information or a solution. However, I wouldn’t say “it” is being used metaphorically here.
“I’ll look into it” means “I will find out for you”- or at least it should in theory. In reality, it often means “Shut up. I don’t care. Stop annoying me”.
It’s interesting how it’s a phrase that sounds like it’s providing the speaker with information, but in reality, it is nothing more than a formality.
But don’t be too quick to judge; there will be people who say “I’ll look into it” with the full intention of following through with their promises.