Difference Wiki

Appearing vs. Appear: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 3, 2023
"Appearing" is the present participle of "appear," used with auxiliary verbs or as an adjective; "appear" is the base form used as the main verb.

Key Differences

"Appearing" functions as the present participle of the verb "appear." It is used to describe an action that is currently happening or to form the continuous tense. "Appear" is the base form of the verb and is used to describe the action in a general sense. For instance, "The magician is appearing on stage now" uses "appearing" to denote an ongoing action, whereas "The magician will appear on stage at seven" uses the base form to indicate a future event.
In the realm of grammar, "appearing" can also act as an adjective to describe a noun that seems to have a particular quality. Conversely, "appear" can serve as an imperative command. Consider the difference between "The ghost story was less frightening with the lights appearing dimly in the background" and "Lights, appear!" where the first sentence uses "appearing" as an adjective and the second uses "appear" as a command.
When it comes to syntax within a sentence, "appearing" will often be accompanied by an auxiliary verb, such as "is," "am," or "are." In contrast, "appear" can stand alone as the main verb without auxiliary verbs in simple present, past, and future tenses. For example, "She is appearing in a new movie" as opposed to "She will appear in a new movie."
The usage of "appearing" can imply a process or a transition into a state, emphasizing the progressiveness of an action. "Appear," on the other hand, denotes the action itself without the focus on its progression. In sentences like "The symptoms are appearing gradually" versus "The symptoms appear at night," the former suggests a developing situation while the latter presents a recurring event.
"Appearing" is often used when the subject takes an active role, while "appear" can be used for both active and passive voice. "He is appearing to be tired" shows an active form of presenting tiredness, whereas "He appears tired" is a simple statement of his state, which can imply a passive situation.

Comparison Chart

Grammatical Form

Present participle
Base form

Function in a Sentence

Often requires an auxiliary verb
Can stand alone as the main verb

Usage as Part of Tense

Present continuous
Simple present, past, future

Role as a Descriptive Term

Can act as an adjective
Used as a main verb

Implication of Action

Suggests an ongoing process
Indicates the occurrence of an action

Appearing and Appear Definitions


Ongoing action or state.
The actor is appearing on a talk show today.


To present oneself formally.
The defendant will appear before the court.


Seeming or giving the impression of being.
With the mist appearing so dense, the morning felt eerie.


To become visible.
Stars appear when the night falls.


An action or event that is becoming apparent.
The signs of wear are appearing on the old book's cover.


To seem or to give the impression of being.
He appears upset about the news.


Used to emphasize the duration of an action.
The moon is appearing slowly over the horizon.


A command to become visible or present.
When I call your name, appear at the door.


To describe actions in progress.
He's appearing more confident as the debate progresses.


Emerging into being.
A new challenger will appear in the game.


To become visible
A plane appearing in the sky.


To become visible
A plane appearing in the sky.


Can appearing be used as an adjective?

Yes, "appearing" can be used as an adjective to describe something that seems a certain way.

What does appearing mean?

"Appearing" refers to the act of becoming visible or being in the process of showing up.

What is the base form of appearing?

The base form of "appearing" is "appear."

In what tense is appearing used?

"Appearing" is used in the present continuous tense.

How do you use appear in a sentence?

"Appear" can be used as the main verb, e.g., "The solution will appear obvious."

Does appear have different meanings?

Yes, "appear" can mean to become visible or to seem.

What voice is used with appearing?

"Appearing" is typically used with active voice.

Can appear be a command?

Yes, you can use "appear" as a command, e.g., "Appear at the meeting on time."

What is the difference in use between appearing and appear?

"Appearing" is for ongoing actions; "appear" is for simple statements or commands.

Can appear be used in passive voice?

Yes, "appear" can be used in passive constructions, e.g., "The book appears to have been read."

What part of speech is appear?

"Appear" is a verb.

Is appear always intransitive?

Mostly, but it can be used transitively in legal contexts, e.g., "to appear a document in court."

How does appearing function in continuous forms?

"Appearing" indicates the action is currently happening, e.g., "She is appearing in a series."

Is appearing a verb?

Yes, "appearing" is the present participle form of the verb "appear."

Can both appearing and appear be used in formal writing?

Yes, both can be used appropriately in formal contexts.

Can appear be used to suggest a transformation?

Yes, e.g., "He appears a changed man."

Does the meaning of appear change with tense?

The core meaning remains, but tense affects the time frame of the action or state.

Are there idiomatic expressions with appear or appearing?

Yes, such as "appear out of thin air" for sudden and unexpected appearance.

Does appearing always indicate physical visibility?

Not always; it can also indicate gradually becoming obvious, e.g., "The pattern is appearing."

What mood is appear used in?

"Appear" can be used in indicative, imperative, and subjunctive moods.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons