Seem vs. Seam

What is the difference?


Seem and Seam sound alike and are spelled almost the same, but these two English words refer to two entirely different things.

Seam Vs Seem

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses


Seam

Seam is a noun (or occasionally verb) which most often refers to a line of stitches joining two pieces of cloth. By stitches we mean a thread passing back and forth repeatedly through two pieces of cloth in order to create clothing or cloth products. 

Sewing machine

The noun form of seam refers to the line of stitches. It can also mean a line where two edges meet.


Examples:

  1. The dressmaker uses her sewing machine to carefully sew the seams for the dress.

    Dressmaker
  2. I can fix the hole in my shirt. The cloth isn't torn; the seam just came apart.

    Fix a seam
  3. Don't buy that brand again. Your shirt is almost brand new, and the side seam is already coming out!

    T-Shirt
  4. There is a bumpy seam between the road and the parking lot.

    Road

The more unusual verb form of seam refers to the action of stitching the line (passing the thread in and out of the cloth using a needle).


Examples:

  1. I have cut the cloth for the dress; now I must seam the pieces together. 

    Cutting cloth
  2. Most people use a machine to seam clothing, because machine stitches are much more even than hand-sewn stitches. 

    Sewing machine


Seem

Seem is a verb. It is often used by English speakers.  Seem means to give a certain impression, sensation, or feeling. If we feel cold, it seems cold to us. If we see just a little light through our window, it seems that it may be morning. If we are not sure something is true, but have reason to believe it is true, we may say that it seems to be true. 


Examples:

  1. This candy seems too sweet to me.

    Sweet candy

  2. Does this room seem cold to you?

    Cold room

  3. Does this lesson seem too difficult to you?

    Difficult Lesson

Sometimes we use the word seem when we want to state an opinion, but not too strongly.  Using the word seem can make your statement a little gentler, a little more polite. It's a little like adding the words, "I think" or "I believe" to the beginning of a statement. Instead of saying, "You are being unreasonable," we might say, "I think you are being unreasonable," or "It seems like you are being unreasonable."


Examples:

  1. It seems to me you should study harder for your English test.
    This is may be more polite than saying, "You should study harder for your English test."

    Study hard
  2. That dress seems too short to me. I think maybe you should wear another. 
    This may be more polite than saying, "That dress is too short."

    Short dress
  3. The new company rules seem to me to be unfair.
    This can be more polite than saying (maybe to your boss), "The new company rules are unfair."

    Company rules


Tips

Seam refers to a line of thread, or stitches, which hold two pieces of cloth together.  It can also refer to a line where two edges meet.
Seem means to give a particular impression, sensation, or feeling. It is often used when expressing an opinion.

Hat seams

Remember, seam is a noun (and only occasionally a verb), and seem is always a verb.


A Story to practice Seam vs. Seem

It is Monday morning, and I have a very important meeting; but I am late for work! I have overslept. I have spilled my coffee all over the kitchen. The traffic is terrible. And worse, it is raining! It seems that everything has gone wrong this morning. 

I drive through the heavy rain, finally crossing the bumpy seam between the road and the parking lot for our building. I quickly park, grab my things, exit the car, and slam the door. It seems even my own raincoat wants to slow me down; immediately it stops me in my tracks!  I hear a loud rip and realize my coat is caught in the door. It seems the coat must be ruined, but I don't have time to worry about that. My meeting starts in three minutes! 

After the meeting I look at the damage to my coat. I am happy to see that the cloth of the coat is not torn: only the stitches in one of the seams. I can easily repair the seam at home. Suddenly the sewing kit my mother gave me for my birthday, which seemed so boring at the time, now seems the perfect gift. I have everything I need to repair the seam in my coat.

Tonight after I fix my coat, I'll call my mom. It seems appropriate to thank her for the sewing kit and for teaching me how to sew a simple seam.

Overslept


Quiz

Answer the following questions and then check your answers below. 
Each question is worth ten points.

  1. The word seam is
    1. a noun
    2. an adjective
    3. a verb
    4. both A and C

  2. The word seem is
    1. a verb
    2. an adverb
    3. an adjective
    4. all of the above

  3. Which of the following is a correct definition of seam?
    1. A line of stitches.
    2. An impression or feeling.
    3. An opinion.
    4. A strong opinion.

  4. Which of the following is a correct definition of seem?
    1. A line of stitches.
    2. A line where two pieces of material are joined.
    3. An impression, feeling, or sensation.
    4. Both A and B.

  5. Which sentence is written correctly?
    1. It seams like you should invite Bennett and Maria to the party.
    2. You're too big for that shirt; you keep tearing out seams under the arms!
    3. Take off that jacket, and I'll sew up that torn seem in the arm.
    4. The seems in those jeans are double-stitched; they won't tear so easily.

  6. Which of the following is written incorrectly?
    1. It seems to me we should plan to leave on Friday.
    2. I have only two seams remaining in order to finish this dress.
    3. I think it would seam mean for you not to invite Maria.
    4. That's an easy dress to make, it requires only a few simple seams!

  7. The joints between sections of a highway bridge could be called _____________.
    1. Seams.
    2. Seems.

  8. Rebeka _____________ to be feeling better today.
    1. Seamed.
    2. Seemed.

  9. It _____________ to me like Emir had four brothers.
    1. Seamed.
    2. Seemed.

  10. One of the _____________ in the shirt I bought was unfinished, so I returned it to the store.
    1. Seems.
    2. Seams.


Answer Key

1. D | 2. A | 3. A | 4. C | 5. B | 6. C | 7. A | 8. A | 9. B | 10. B


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