Explanation of "like"


"'Like' is used as a preposition, telling where, when or how the noun in the sentence is doing whatever it may be doing."

This does not seem right. If it is, does anyone have any examples of this?

See example:

I just didn't want to feel like I was wasting my time trying to go back to school and having to start from scratch.
asked Jun 13 '12 at 16:19 sam pas New member

3 answers


Like is a preposition.  It means having the same characteristics as; similar to:

     Sarah looks like her mom.


Grammarly Answers had a contest back in April 2011 on the "Misuse of like or as".  The contest is over, but there are some good examples of how to use like correctly.



In your sentence, Sam, like should be as if or as though




link comment answered Jun 19 '12 at 00:50 Jody M. Expert

"Like" is not a preposition. There are cases where it may be, but I can't think of any of them. In the sentence you volunteered, it looks like it behaves like a complement rather than anything prepositional. A test for this can include seeing if one sentence is embedded in another."I just didn't want to feel." and "I was wasting my time..." are two separate sentences, and neither is subordinating.


Another test for complements is whether you can substitute a word that you know is a complement for "like". So, "I just didn't want to feel that I was wasting..." It's not as good as "like", but it's still grammatical, which is the point.


Some more information on like and other complements can be found here:http://people.brandeis.edu/~smalamud/ling100/f09-outline-syntax2.pdf



link comment edited Jun 19 '12 at 17:32 Anna New member

In the sentence above, "like" could be a preposition, but may not be used in that way. It can be used to compare things, but it can also be used to embed sentences in other sentences, much like the way "that" is used. As for as preferring one over the other, it depends on the type of meaning you're trying to convey. Do you not want to feel like  you're wasting your time, or do you not want to feel that you're wasting your time?

link edited Jun 19 '12 at 18:14 Anna New member

I'm not sure which "sentence above" you are talking about because there are a few sentences above that contain "like" (correct and incorrect). In other words, it helps to be precise about which sentence incorrectly uses "like" as a preposition.

I'm also not sure what you mean by "embed sentences in other sentences", but joining clauses comes to mind. Is that what you mean? Conjunctions can be used to join clauses. Click the link to read what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say about using "like" as a conjunction.


Just because things such as "like I said" and "feel like you are wasting your time" are commonly heard, does not mean that they are correct. (Common and correct are not synonyms.)

Jody M.Jun 20 '12 at 02:54

Sorry, I was talking about the OP's sentence. Embedded sentences, embedded clauses; they're the same thing. The only reason I raised the issue of using "like" as a complementizer is that the register you're using has to be appropriate. If this were directed toward a peer group, you might want to use "like" over "that". Conversely, if you really are comparing something to someone else, you'll still want to use "like". Additionally, you can also take "that" or "like" out completely, and the sentence will be mostly unchanged, except in the modulation of meaning. It depends on what you mean to say exactly and who you're saying it to. This may be able to do a better job explaining than I can: http://www.public.asu.edu/~gelderen/314text/chap7.htm

AnnaJun 20 '12 at 05:10

I read some of it. I doubt I will start calling clauses "embedded sentences", though. It is even more unlikely that I will call the words used to introduce those clauses "complementizers". No need to create names for things that already have names, in my opinion. For the record, "like" is not the only word that can be used to make a comparison. I agree with knowing your audience. When visiting a grammar forum, one can expect the audience to be people who enjoy discussing the proper (and sometimes improper) use of the English language. Internet slang might have a place in this world, but a grammar forum is not it. The "OP" has a name.

Jody M.Jun 20 '12 at 13:52

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