Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Word grammar: like

Type: Article

If you’d just, like, give him a chance, Tim Bowen will explain a whole lot of word grammar to the likes of us.

Apart from its more common uses as a verb, a preposition and a conjunction, like can also function as a noun, a suffix and an adverb. As a noun, like is used in the expression and the like, used to include other similar people or things in what you are saying, as in ‘These days celebrities are usually pop stars, film stars, models and the like’. If you want to emphasize that someone is impressive or important for some reason, you can talk about his, her or their like, as in ‘We shall never see his like again’.

The expression the likes of is used to refer to a particular type of person or thing, as in ‘I doubt they’d give one of those jobs to the likes of us’. As a suffix like can be added to a number of nouns to make adjectives with the meaning of similar to something, as in ‘The illness causes chest pains and flu-like symptoms’ or ‘Broccoli is a cabbage-like vegetable’.

Normally used only in spoken English, like is increasingly being used as an adverb to draw someone’s attention to what you are going to say, either because it is new information or because it is important, as in ‘I said, like, you can’t do this to me’ or ‘They were, like, so rude!’ In a similar way, it can also be used to report what someone says in an informal way, as in ‘And I’m like, give me a chance to get a word in edgeways, James’.

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