Difference between Look at and Look through
There are multiple differences between “look at” and “look through”. In terms of grammar and even as a metaphor.
Grammatically they are similar, because both are a combination of a preposition and verb, a full verb phrase. However, in meaning they are very much different.
Look at is quite literal, and it means to focus on something with your eyes.
- “Look at that dog.”
It means to literally look at something. Even the expression “would you look at that,” also refers to seeing the thing that happened.
Look through, on the other hand, has two meanings.
1. The first is also literal, and means to look through something that doesn’t block your vision.
- For example: “Look through that window.” Since the window is clear you can look through it.
2. The other meaning of look through is metaphorical, and it means to see someone’s true intentions. The most common phrase is “see through someone,” but look through is also used.
- For example: “I know exactly what you want. I have seen/looked through you”. This means that the person wasn’t able to hide their true intentions and you were able to see what they are.