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Aiming at/Looking at

Help on English vocab, including idioms, slang and sayings

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Aiming at/Looking at

Postby ice_breaker » Fri Dec 25, 2009 8:17 am

I'm currently working on an exercise to find out the correct phrase


What we're really driving at/aiming at/looking at are likely developments in the structure of the company over the next five to ten years.

I choose aiming at, but the answer is looking at. Anybody knows why. Please advise the difference in this sentence.

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Re: Aiming at/Looking at

Postby dimorphic » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:33 pm

It's difficult to say; this example's meaning is very dependent on the context.

What we're really looking at are likely developments in the structure of the company over the next five to ten years. = In this version you are reviewing likely developments.

"We are looking at likely developments."

What we're really aiming at are likely developments in the structure of the company over the next five to ten years. = In this version you have already reviewed the possible developments, and now you are working toward them; or it could mean that you have not yet determined all of the likely developments, and you are now explaining what you have thought of so far.

"We are aiming at likely developments."

As you can see, "aiming at" is very ambiguous without knowing the context of this example.
I'm still learning myself, but I was compelled to give you my thoughts. Hopefully, someone will correct me if something is wrong.
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Re: Aiming at/Looking at

Postby ETutor » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:37 pm

The correct phrase here would be dependent on the context around it. In general, though you would use “driving at” or “aiming at” when you have a specific goal in mind. You would use “looking at” when you are evaluating something or experiencing events. It may help to look at examples of when you would use each of these.

The need for survival is what we are driving at.
We are aiming at capturing the largest market share.
We are looking at what scenarios could occur in the near term.

A very tricky question, indeed!
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Re: Aiming at/Looking at

Postby clevermae » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:25 pm

I see there are already explanations here. But I agree. Driving at/Aiming at connotes a goal. And the sentence in your exercise doesn't intend to make "likely developments in the structure..." to mean as a goal, but merely as something to be checked or evaluated. The word "likely" should be your hint. "Likely developments" mean "possible developments," which can also not happen. And when you set goals, you don't think of them as a likely thing, but rather as a sure thing. For instance, we don't aim for LIKELY developments. We AIM FOR developments.
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