Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The word like may be the only word in English that can be a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition, conjunction, and interjection:-
As preposition or adjective, it comes from the Middle English like meaning "similar", which in turn comes from Anglo-Saxon gelīc and Old Norse líkr. The verb "to like" came from Anglo-Saxon līcian. Both words may be related to Anglo-Saxon līc = "body".
As a preposition used in comparisons
- He eats like a pig.
- He has a toy like hers.
Similes can be contrasted with metaphors, which are phrases which say that something is something else when the intended meaning is that the two things are similar in some way:
- He was a pig yesterday. (Intended meaning: He ate like a pig yesterday.)
As a conjunction
- He acts like a girl does.
- He acts as a girl does.
- They look like they don't want to go to school.
- They look as if they don't want to go to school.
Many people became aware of the two options in 1954, when a famous ad campaign for Winston cigarettes introduced the slogan "Winston tastes good — like a cigarette should." The slogan was criticised for its usage by prescriptivists, the "as" or "as if" construction being considered more proper. Winston countered with another ad, featuring a woman with greying hair in a bun who insists that the slogan ought to be "Winston tastes good as a cigarette should" and is shouted down by happy cigarette smokers asking "What do you want — good grammar or good taste?"
The appropriateness of its usage as a conjunction is still disputed, however. In some circles it is considered a faux pas to use like instead of as or as if, whereas in other circles as sounds stilted.
As a verb
Like can be used to express a feeling of attraction, often infatuation. Examples:
- I like her.
As an adjective
Like can be used as an adjective meaning "similar".
As a noun
Like can be used as a noun meaning "preference" or "kind".
Valley speak and beatniks
In modern English slang, primarily in the U.S., but increasingly elsewhere, like has an increasing number of uses. Widespread among youth and increasing among adults, these uses of like are traditionally associated with valley girls, and are thought to have been popularized through the song "Valley Girl" by Frank Zappa, released in 1982, and the film of the same name, released the following year. However, nontraditional usage of the word has been around at least since the 1950s, introduced through beat and jazz culture. Such usage of the word had been made popular in Scooby Doo, in which like has been used by Shaggy for numerous occasions. This change in usage is called a functional shift. This type of usage, though widespread, is often considered substandard. Nonetheless, it is a valid change in language use, comparable to many others.
Some are pressing to have valley speak (also known as Valspeak or mallspeak) of which the uses of like illustrated above are a telltale sign, recognized as an American dialect. Another characteristic of valley speak is the frequent use of high-rise terminals.
As an adverb
Like can be used as an adverb meaning "approximately".
Like is sometimes used to paraphrase a speaker:
- She was, like, no way!
- He was like, I'll be there in five minutes.
- So I'm like, what are you talking about?
or to introduce pantomime as an extra component of the sentence:
- I was like [speaker rolls eyes].
As a hedge
Like can be used to indicate that the following phrase will be an approximation or exaggeration, or that the following words may not be quite right, but are close enough:
- I have like no money.
As a discourse particle or filler
Like can also be used in much the same way as um...:
- I, like, don't know what to do.
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