Is there a rule of thumb for simplifications like "it looks like rain today"



I am wondering if there's any rule to know when or where we can simplify sentences like

It looks like rain again today

Which I think it's the short version of

It looks like that it's gonna rain today.

Can we do this to all "that is going to + verb" structures?

If not, would you give me few more similar sentences?


Posted 2019-04-26T04:25:43.093

Reputation: 5 877

*It looks like it's going to rain today.* – Jason Bassford – 2019-04-26T08:06:31.000



Fore one thing the sentance:

It looks like that it's gonna rain today.

is incorrect. One should not use "lile that" in such a construction, and "gonna" is rather informal particularly for writing. One might say:

It looks like it's going to rain today.


It looks like it will rain today.


It looks as if it's going to rain today.

all with much the same meaning.

The phrase "looks like rain" (or "snow" or "a storm" or some other weather condition) is a very common phrase indicating a prediction of rain in the near future, derived from observing the sky and the current weather. From this by metaphor such phrases as "it looks like trouble" are used, in that case a prediction of trouble soon to come.

But with the more general form "It seems that it is going to X" one cannot always say 'It looks like X' in a natural way. This really only works when X is both a noun and a verb, or else when one changes the verb form "to X" into a related noun or noun phrase. Also, the "It is going to X" form implies that X is a natural or general occurrence, for which no cause needs to be specified. One would not say "It seems that it is going to walk" because things in general do not walk, some specific person or animal walks. Only verbs which describe a widespread activity, like a weather condition, fit this construction.

David Siegel

Posted 2019-04-26T04:25:43.093

Reputation: 17 300

Thanks for the answer, I didn't know "look like that" is not idiomatic! I thought it's similar to "it seems that". – Cardinal – 2019-04-26T05:28:43.437

@Cardinal "look like that" can be used, with rather different meaning, when discussing actual appearance. "I didn't know he looked like that." – David Siegel – 2019-04-26T05:32:56.513

I mean, that being a conjunction. It's interesting because it means the same as "seem", but it's not idiomatic. I mean the example that I said under the other answer. like "it seems that we will have to stay for tonight" – Cardinal – 2019-04-26T05:34:46.607


  • *"It looks like that it's gonna rain today" is ungrammatical
  • Correct version would be !"It looks like it's gonna rain today"
  • Or "It looks like it's going to rain today"

You can consider it to be omitting we will have or it will be not it's going to.

This is because what follows is a noun:

  • It looks like snow again today
  • It looks like sun again today
  • It looks like fog again today
  • It looks like pizza again today
  • It looks like fun again today

All are quite informal.

Symbols:  * ungrammatical  ! non-standard 


Posted 2019-04-26T04:25:43.093

Reputation: 7 248

Thanks for the answer, would you tell me why using "that" is ungrammatical? That looks like a legitimate conduction as "it seems that we will stay here tonight" – Cardinal – 2019-04-26T05:27:33.613

conjunction I meant – Cardinal – 2019-04-26T05:33:18.607

1@Cardinal It looks like that is going to rain would make sense if you were saying it when pointing at a cloud. And it looks like it is going to rain is also fine, even when not pointing at anything (because it's a general statement). But *it looks like that it is going to rain* will always be wrong. Note that your example sentence doesn't follow the construction that you suggest immediately after it in your question. Your example sentence inserts an additional it. – Jason Bassford – 2019-04-26T08:15:27.583

@JasonBassford Thanks for following the discussion. – Cardinal – 2019-04-26T19:47:48.947

I am just curious to know how to sentences can be connected without any conjunctions. I thought that is removed from the "It looks like (that) it's going to rain." – Cardinal – 2019-04-26T19:50:27.000