In modern times, we can barely tell what’s real or fake, especially online. Therefore, it’s easy to become a skeptic with all the uncertainty!
So, how do we express the sentiment that we can’t always trust what we see?
Well, right below is a list of synonyms for the phrase “things aren’t always what they seem” to add to your arsenal of skepticism!
Other Ways to Say “Things Aren’t Always What They Seem”
- Appearances are often misleading
- You can’t judge a book by its cover
- All that glitters is not gold
- Beauty is only skin deep
- Appearances are deceiving
- Clothes do not make the man
- What really matters is invisible to the eyes
- Don’t be shallow
- Don’t just scratch the surface
- Things are by nature inconstant
- One certainty is the impermanence of all things
- The phrase “things aren’t always what they seem” can be used in formal and informal settings, depending on context.
- As a formal alternative, you can say “appearances are often misleading.”
- As an informal alternative, you can say “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Don’t go anywhere! Next, we’ll discuss our choice of formal and informal synonyms for the phrase “things aren’t always what they seem.” Moreover, we’ll provide examples using each.
Appearances Are Often Misleading (Formal)
In formal circumstances, it’s important to say what you mean clearly and concisely. That’s because important, business-minded people at work or school don’t always have time for flowery, idiomatic language.
Therefore, as a formal alternative for “things aren’t always what they seem,” we would recommend using an equally straightforward phrase, such as “appearances are often misleading.”
Like the original phrase, this alternative urges the listener not to make too many presumptions based on how things may appear.
It is not a better phrase than the original. However, you can use it to change up your phrasing from time to time, either in your emails, conversations, or if you are writing an essay on the subject.
Finally, let’s see how we might employ this phrase in an email example:
Dear Professor Green,
It is good to hear that your patients have responded well to the placebo, but I would remind you that appearances are often misleading.
Be sure that your sample is diverse – there may be other variables creating this perceived consistent response.
Klaus Fester, Ph.D.
You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover (Informal)
Another way to say “things aren’t always what they seem” is the classic English idiom, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Like the original phrase, this saying speaks to the fact that one cannot discern all of the important information about something from appearances alone.
Since this phrase is idiomatic and metaphorical, this lends an informal and even whimsical effect to things. This is great for normal conversations or creative writing.
However, we wouldn’t recommend employing this phrase in work emails or business settings. After all, it is better to be candid in those circumstances rather than speaking in metaphors.
Consider the following examples to see this phrase in action:
The houses here have tin roofs and walls made from recycled materials, but the interiors are tidy and beautiful. It goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
You can’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s why I always make an effort to interview as many candidates as possible rather than relying on the content of their CVs.
In summary, the phrase “things aren’t always what they seem” can be used in formal and informal circumstances, depending on the surrounding context.
Therefore, you can use our list of synonyms to change up your phrasing, but the original phrase can be used in most circumstances too.
If you’d like to keep our list of alternatives on hand for future use, go ahead and bookmark this page!