So you’ve reached an agreement in a working partnership, and, as you shake hands with your soon-to-be coworker, what do you say? “Looking forward to working with you” comes to mind, but is that correct? Should you say something else instead?
It is correct to say “looking forward to working with you” as a way of expressing your happiness that you will work alongside the person you’re talking to. It is a minor sentence made of gerund phrases from the phrasal verbs “look forward to” and “work with.” It is not grammatically complete and, therefore, not appropriate in formal settings. Its grammatically complete counterpart is “I am looking forward to working with you.”
Stay tuned to learn more about “Looking forward to working with you,” phrasal verbs, and minor sentences.
What Does “Looking Forward to Working With You” Mean?
“Looking forward to working with you” combines the meanings of the phrasal verbs “look forward to” and “work with” in gerund form while using “you” as an object to indicate to whom the statement is made.
“Look forward to” means “to feel happy and excited about something that is going to happen” (source). “Work with” is more straightforward and means to work with someone or something. When you put them together, the fact that you’re going to work with someone is the “something that is going to happen” that you “look forward to.”
Since the pronoun “you” is the object, we know this minor sentence is directly addressed to someone. All of this comes together to indicate that the speaker is excited about working with “you.”
How Do You Use “Looking Forward to Working With You”?
As a minor sentence, “Looking forward to working with you” works as a standalone statement. To retain the statement’s original meaning, you must direct it to someone else. It doesn’t need any alterations to convey its meaning.
“Looking forward to working with you” needs “I am” or “I’m” to become grammatically complete, but it has the same meaning whether the subject is present in the statement or not. We use both versions the same way.
If the subject changes, the sentence is no longer a direct statement about the speaker. It then becomes a statement about the new subject and says they are excited to work with the person you’re talking to. For example, “She is looking forward to working with you” indicates that the subject, “she,” is the person “looking forward to working with you.”
When Can You Use “Looking Forward to Working With You”?
You can use “Looking forward to working with you” anytime the speaker is telling someone else they’re happy they will work together. Typically, you are the speaker making the statement; however, you can also use this as part of written dialogue.
When you are the speaker, “Looking forward to working with you” has the same use, whether spoken or written to someone else.
In the case of a written dialogue, you’ll write this statement from one character to another. The invisible subject, “I,” is the speaker who makes the statement to another character in the scene.
In What Context Can You Use “Looking Forward to Working With You”?
“Looking forward to working with you” is a particular statement we use during conversations in which both parties try to reach an employment or contractual agreement. It typically ends the conversation once the parties reach an agreement.
Even during a written dialogue, this statement only fits when the topic of the discussion revolves around work, employment, or contracts. As it’s a statement about “working with you,” it doesn’t make sense in any other context.
Using “Looking Forward to Working With You” in a Full Sentence
As mentioned before, “Looking forward to working with you” is a minor sentence. It has no subject. The speaker doesn’t say “I” to fill that role, so this sentence does not follow the “usual subject-predicate structure” (source). To use this in a full sentence, it needs a subject.
Changing “Looking forward to working with you” from a minor sentence to a full, grammatically complete sentence is simple. It needs the subject, “I,” and a variation of the verb, “to be,” as in the following sentence.
- I am looking forward to working with you.
You can also use “I’m,” the contraction of “I am.”
- I’m looking forward to working with you.
If you change the subject of the sentence and make it a statement about someone else instead of yourself, it still needs a variation of “to be” after the subject.
- They are looking forward to working with you.
- Susan is looking forward to working with you.
When Not to Use “Looking Forward to Working With You”
Don’t use “Looking forward to working with you” before you actually reach an agreement or if you don’t reach an agreement at all. Also, avoid saying this when the conversation is about work, but working together isn’t discussed.
This statement is only proper once the parties reach an agreement. Otherwise, there is no future of “working with you” to look forward to, and the statement doesn’t apply.
“Looking forward to working with you” can seem sarcastic and insulting if you use it during negotiations where you and the other party don’t agree to work together.
Whatever the reason, if you don’t come to an agreement, it will seem like you’re making fun of the fact that the parties never found a compromise, so don’t try to say this if you are in this circumstance.
General work discussions, such as sharing details about a current project, are also improper places to use “Looking forward to working with you.” There’s no need to discuss working together in this scenario.
What Can You Use Instead of “Looking Forward to Working With You”?
Any synonyms of the gerund phrases, “look forward to” and “work with,” are fitting substitutes. You can replace either gerund phrase with a phrasal verb equivalent or both of them together in the same statement so long as you alter the sentence to remain grammatically correct.
“I can’t wait to” or “I’m excited to” can take the place of “looking forward to,” such as in the following examples.
- Looking forward to working with you.
- I can’t wait to work with you.
- I’m excited to work with you.
Notice how “working” changes to “work” when using these substitutes. This happens because, in its original form, “looking forward” uses “look” as a present participle gerund, “looking,” and the sentence doesn’t make sense unless “work” is also a present participle gerund. With these substitutes, however, “work” remains an infinitive verb.
“Working together” is a good substitute for “work with.” No object is necessary to complete the sentence because “together” defines the action as taking place between the subject, “I,” and the object, “you.” Further, “work with” does not define an object within itself, and you must include the object. The following examples show this in action.
- Looking forward to working with you.
- Looking forward to working together.
You can also replace both parts of the original statement using these substitutes. Each row of the following table is a complete sentence with substitutes for each half of “looking forward to working with you” in each cell.
|I can’t wait to||work together.|
|I’m excited to||work together.|
Both parts of “Looking forward to working with you” are gerunds based on phrasal verbs. A phrasal verb is “a phrase that consists of a verb with a preposition or adverb or both” (source). “Look forward to” and “work with” fit this description.
In “look forward to,” “look” is the verb, “forward” is the adverb, and “to” is the preposition. Typically, forward is a direction, but when we use it in this phrasal verb, it indicates looking in the future as well as the emotion of happiness. “Happily look forward to” means the same as “look forward to.”
“Working with” is the present participle of “work with.” “Work” is the verb, and “with” is the preposition of this phrasal verb. Its meaning is apparent from the words themselves.
Whether or not you should use the gerund form of a phrasal verb or just the original phrasal verb form does not matter in terms of meaning or flow. However, if you opt to use the gerund form “looking forward to,” then you should balance it with the gerund form on the other side:
- Looking forward to working with you.
Interestingly, you do not need to balance the terms when you use the phrasal verb “look forward to” because “working with you” is a gerund phrase referring to the continual process of working alongside someone.
- I look forward to working with you.
It is apparent in the previous sentence that the gerund phrase “working with you” is the noun object of the preposition “to.” That means “to working with you” is a prepositional phrase.
Here are a few more common phrasal verbs with the verb in red and the preposition in orange:
- Keep up
- Hold back
- Look after
- Throw away
- Let down
The meaning of a phrasal verb does not always directly correspond to the meanings of its components. For instance, judging by the meanings of “let” and “down,” you might think “let down” means to allow something to move downward; however, it actually means “to disappoint.”
Consult your dictionary to confirm the meaning of a verbal phrase if you’re unsure of its definition.
Polite Expressions as Minor Sentences
Several polite expressions are proper in American English yet don’t fit the bill of a complete sentence. “Looking forward to working with you” is one of these. These expressions are usually greetings or farewells between friends or acquaintances.
Some unsavory terms and statements follow the format of a minor sentence but steer clear of these because they’re typically rude.
Being polite is always good, as manners build great first impressions and maintain positive relationships. Look at the following examples to see some of these polite expressions.
It’s good to use a polite greeting when you see someone for the first time after a period of absence. You can use a few expressions in these circumstances:
- Good morning.
- Good afternoon.
- Good evening.
- How’s it going?
Likewise, when departing someone’s presence, everyone likes a happy farewell. The following minor sentences are polite ways to say goodbye.
- Have a nice day.
- Have a good one.
- See you later.
The following two are courteous replies to questions, such as “Would you like something to drink?”
- Yes, please.
- No, thank you.
These are simple ways of showing gratitude when someone does something helpful, like picking up a pencil you dropped.
- Thank you.
The final two examples are replies to the above statements, “Thank you” and “Thanks.”
- You’re welcome.
- No problem.
Head over to our other article, “Is It Correct To Say “Hope You Arrived Safely”?” to see another polite expression that’s also a minor sentence.
As mentioned before, minor sentences are fully functional sentences that are missing grammatical components. They are informal statements but don’t go quite as far as slang or shorthand because they maintain the general integrity of a complete sentence minus a few components.
“Looking forward to working with you” is a minor sentence because it’s missing the subject, but it still conveys the idea of the statement. Minor sentences may have other missing components, but the subject is usually the grammatical part absent from the statement.
You can see how this works in the following examples.
- Bless you.
This statement is missing the subject. The full version is “May God bless you.” This is a polite phrase to say when someone sneezes. The phrase originated from the time of the Bubonic Plague as a statement of hope for healing because sneezing was a common symptom.
- Hey, stranger.
This minor sentence lacks many grammatical components and carries an implied rather than a literal meaning. You can say it to greet someone you haven’t seen in a long time.
The literal meaning of “stranger” is someone you’ve never seen before, but in the above statement, “stranger” implies you don’t know the person anymore because it’s been so long since you’ve seen them.
- Sounds good.
This one is only missing the subject. “That sounds good” is grammatically complete. This is a statement of confirmation and signals agreement to something, such as when you and a friend are making plans to meet somewhere and setting the time and place.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
To learn more about minor sentences, read Is It Correct to Say “Well Said”?
Just like “Looking forward to working with you,” many statements and expressions in American English are correct, even if they aren’t grammatically complete. Now, you’ll understand that they’re okay to use, and as you learn more, you’ll be able to utilize them yourself. See you next time!