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“I can’t wait to speak to you” and “Looking forward to speaking with you”. These are two phrases that, at first glance, seem to mean the same thing. However, as you read this article, you will realize that they have different tones.

If you have clicked on this article then it suggests that you are at a point in your writing where you are uncertain which word to use. Perhaps you are writing an important email to someone working with you, or perhaps you are writing to a family member who is particular about correct grammar.

Both of these phrases are correct from a grammatical perspective. However, they have different implications. “Looking forward to” sounds more professional. “Looking forward to” might be more appropriate for a casual setting.

We will explain the grammatical differences between these two, as well as the best instances to take each of them in use. The main difference between these two is their tenses.

Present Simple and Present Continuous

In the present simple, something is permanent or semi-permanent. For example, if I say ‘I walk to work’, I am telling you that my mode of transport is by foot.

It would be strange to say ‘I’m walking to work in the morning’.

At the moment itself, (or at the very least in the near future) you’re doing something (or will be doing something).

If I say this, then what I am saying is that I’m “walking to your house”, and that there is some action I am performing in order to reach your place, and not that I “walk to your house”.

Unlike simple continuous, present continuous is a more temporary tense. Eventually you will perform something that isn’t going to your friends’ house.

I look forward to speaking with you

In a professional context, “I look forward to speaking with you” is written in the simple present indicative. It means that “speaking with you is one of the things I always look forward to doing.”

The phrase implies that the speaking will happen at a specific time. Because it is permanent, it allows for it to happen at any time. Respecting their other priorities.

I am looking forward to speaking with you

“I look forward to talking with you”, on the other hand, appears to have a completely opposite implication. The main one being that it appears in present continuous.

The use of this phrase is essentially saying: “I have an optimistic outlook on the future, and also have a happy outlook on the present”.

The better option for casual settings is simply to say ‘Look forward to speaking to you’, and there will be an agreed date and time when this speaking will occur.

Another different factor between this and the previous one is that this is a more definite statement. It implies that you intend to speak with this person, rather than just wish to.

Whether or not this actually matters could be the subject of some debate at this point. I won’t be taking sides here, I will be providing both sides of the argument.

When does it matter which phrase to use?

When you’re writing a business letter or email, you want to make sure that you sound professional and courteous, especially if you’re addressing a manager or investor.

In this context, there are two unprofessional things you are implying if you a say, “I am looking forward to speaking to you.”

You are looking forward to talking to them this time, but are dreading speaking to them afterward.

The second argument has to do with the fact that your time isn’t as important as theirs, and as a result you’re forced to talk to them.

When doesn’t it matter which phrase to use?

However, some might argue that this doesn’t matter. How many of you would take offense if you got an email from a company that says ‘Looking forward to interacting’? Probably not too many.

The exact wording of what you communicate is irrelevant as long as the intention is positive and hopeful.

Casual Simple

I don’t want anyone to think that professionalism is always simple present.

You may say, for example, “I drink seven cups of this stuff every day”. Clearly, this phrase doesn’t mean anything grand, but it does still use the present simple, with a definite and permanent implication.

Professional Continuous

Likewise, continuous present doesn’t always need to be casual.

Your boss might write ‘I’m on my way to the supplier’ in an email to you. This sounds straightforward and professional.

However, what you’re saying is that I will soon perform another action separate from the current one I’m performing.

Although it would make sense to just say something like, “Use simple present in professional settings, and continuous present in casual settings,” the truth is that it’s not that straightforward.

Casual or professional depends on factors like the subject matter and urgency to determine if they fall into either category.

Conclusion

If you are not familiar with the two phrases “I anticipate speaking with you” and “I am anticipating speaking with you,” you might think they mean exactly the same thing.

Despite the fact that you would not be wrong, the implications of each of these phrases might be understood differently.

“I look” sounds more professional. Whereas “Looking forward” may be more appropriate in casual conversations.

However the rules of simple present and continuous present as not that simple.

However, there are some differences between how to say “I am looking forward to speaking with you” and “I look forward to discussing it with you”.