Tag Archives: like

Top 10 grammar myths: you must distinguish between as and like

Can you detect an error in the following sentence from a traditional grammar point of view?

This book looks like it should be interesting.

Many of you probably read it and thought, ‘What’s wrong with that sentence?’. The problem is that many people say like is a preposition, not a conjunction, and so should not be used as a joining word. They believe like as a preposition should be used to introduce phrases that indicate similarities (Ann is like her mother).

However, like became a subordinating conjunction in the 18th century when writers dropped the as from the conjunctive phrase, like as.

Although that is the case, using like as a conjunction is a major ‘pet hate’ according to a Plain English campaign survey in 2004. If you care about this distinction, replace like with as if, as with or as though.

Malcolm said it looked like (as if) it might rain.
Joanna looked like (as though) she wanted to cry.
Like (as with) any market in oversupply, price competition has taken hold…

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