Search and Search For: What’s the Difference?

What's the difference?

There is a big difference between the verb SEARCH and the phrasal verb SEARCH FOR. If you use the wrong one, you might really confuse the person you're talking to. So what is the difference between SEARCH and SEARCH FOR?

Summary and Examples

When we just use the word SEARCH without a preposition, it means we are talking about the area we are looking.
I searched the ocean (I swam around in the ocean and went on a boat looking for something).
He searched his car all day long but never found it (He was looking in his car - in the trunk, in the seats, etc - for something)

Searching his car is difference than searching for his car

When we use the preposition FOR after SEARCH, it means we are talking about the actual thing we want to find.
I searched for my keys and couldn't find them (I didn't know where my keys were so I looked around my apartment for them).
He searched for his car (He had forgotten where he had parked it and was looking to find the automobile).

Searching for his car: different than searching his car

We can also have two objects after the word search. We first say where we are looking, and then what we are looking for (following the word FOR).
I searched my apartment for my keys.
He searched the city for his car.

Do you now understand the difference between search and search for?​ To test yourself, do the following exercise.

Practice Using SEARCH and SEARCH FOR Correctly

Answer in the comments below and I'll give you some personalized feedback to make sure you are using the correct vocabulary.

1 - Do you lose things very often? Where do you search for them?

2 - ​Do you often have to search for your keys?

3 - Do you think the police should be allowed to search your car?

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