Vocabulary – Like
Uses and meanings of Like
The word like has a very flexible range of uses and meanings. It can be used as a noun, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and quotative.
As a noun
As a noun like has the following meanings:
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- A person, thing or group similar to the one mentioned. (e.g. She was a great woman; we won’t see her like.)
- The things that someone enjoys. (e.g. Swimming is one of my likes.)
As a verb
The verb like means:
“to find pleasant or attractive; enjoy.”
It can be followed by an infinitive or a gerund:
- I like dancing.
- I like to be honest.
These two forms often have the same meaning, but sometimes there is a difference.
- When we use like with an infinitive, it expresses habitual preference, something that the speaker does not necessarily like or enjoy but considers as useful, right or wise ( e.g. I like to see my doctor once a year.)
- When like is used with the gerund form, the construction tends to mean that we are actually doing the action (e.g. I like listening to music.)
Would like is used to make polite offers and requests.
- Would you like some tea?
- I’d like to see your report.
As a preposition
The word like may be used as a preposition; it can introduce a simile (a stylistic device comparing two dissimilar ideas) as well as non-simile comparisons.
- He fights like a lion.
- He swims like fast as a fish.
- He has a car just like hers
As a conjunction
The word like may replace the subordinating conjunction as or as if. (Some people think it is ‘incorrect’ but you will certainly hear it a lot.)
- I feel like I am a star.
- They look like they have been having fun.
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Feel like can be used in two different ways:
- Informally, feel like means to have an inclination or desire for. (e.g. I felt like watching a movie)
- feel like (oneself) means to sense oneself as being in one’s normal state of health or spirits. (e.g. I just don’t feel like myself today
As an adverbial
Colloquially, like may be used as an adverb in the construction:
be + like + to infinitive,
meaning “be likely to, be ready to, be on the verge of.” here are some examples:
- He was like to do it again
- He was like to start all over again.
As a quotative
Like is sometimes used colloquially as a quotative (an expression, such as she said or he goes, that introduces reported speech) to introduce a quotation or impersonation.
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- He was like, “I’ll be back in five minutes.”
- She was like, “go out!”
- I was like [speaker rolls eyes].
- The car was like, “vroom!”