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to be + like?

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to be + like?

Postby freewind » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:16 pm

Dear tear,
Is the phrase in the brackets below correct? I have found the sentences in the articke on the Net but I have been taught that correct negative with "like" should be "They do not like that". Is it a special usage I have not heard of or is it a mistake?

Martha: That sounds delicious! I know my Italian cousins are going to be there. I'm sure they'll love it.
Jane: Italians? Maybe I'll bake a cake...
Martha: No, no. (They're not like that.) They'll love it.

Thank you.
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Re: to be + like?

Postby Kellogg » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:37 pm

I think that you need to remember that the word "like" is sometimes a verb and sometimes not a verb.

A verb:

1. I like broccoli. / I do not like broccoli.
2. She likes newspapers. / She does not like newspapers.
3. They liked the movie. / They did not like the movie.

Not a verb:

Joe: Do you know Mona? I have never met her.
Susan: Yes, I do.
Joe: What is she like? (= describe her)
Susan: She is very polite and intelligent.
Joe: Some people told me that she is selfish.
Susan: Who told you that? Mona is not like that. ( = she is not selfish)

If you want more examples of "like" when it describes a person or thing or place ("I hear that you visited Paris last month. What is it like?"), check a good dictionary. This use of "like" is usually listed as a preposition (although older books call it an adjective).
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