What Part of Speech is “LIKE”?

In English texts and everyday communication, the word “like” serves a variety of purposes. It can act as an adjective, a preposition, an adverb, a conjunction, a noun, or a verb.

  1. Adjective

This word is classified under adjectives if it is used to modify a noun or a pronoun by indicating similarities in qualities or characteristics. For example, in the sentence below:

You’re not talking about like things when you compare football and golf.

The word “like” is used as an adjective that describes the noun “things.”

Definition:

a. having the same or similar qualities

  • Example:
  • I responded in like manner.
  1. Preposition

Another common function of the word “like” is as a preposition that also means “for example” or “similar to.” In the sample sentence below:

Their house is like a barn.

The word “like” is used as a preposition that indicates that the “house” is similar to a “barn.”

Definition:

a. having the same characteristics or qualities as

  • Example:
  • There were other suits like mine in the shop.

b. used to draw attention to the nature of an action or event

  • Example:
  • We apologize for coming over unannounced like this.

c. such as; for example

  • Example:
  • They discussed books like 1984 and Animal Farm.
  1. Adverb

The word ”like” can also be categorized as an adverb if it is used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Take for example, the sentence below:

The distance is more like 750 miles.

In this sentence, the word modifies the adjective “750,” and is therefore considered as an adverb.

Definition:

a. nearly; approximately

  • Example:
  • It was like 8 feet deep.

b. used in speech as a meaningless filler or to signify the speaker’s uncertainty about an expression just used

  • Example:
  • There was this funny smell—sort of dusty like.
  1. Conjunction

There are also some cases wherein the word “like” is used as a conjunction that connects two clauses to form one sentence. For instance, in the sample sentence below:

I hate girls who change boyfriends like they change clothes.

The word “like” serves as a conjunction that links together the clauses “I hate girls who change boyfriends” and “they change clothes.”

Definition:

a. in the same way that; as

  • Example:
  • They raven down scenery like children do sweetmeats.

b. as though; as if

  • Example:
  • I felt like I’d been kicked by a horse.
  1. Noun

Other times, the word “like” is considered as a noun, which refers to something of the same kind. In the example:

Did you ever hear the like?

The word “like” is used as a noun that is used to indicate a thing of the same kind.

Definition:

a. a thing or things of the same kind

  • Example:
  • We will never see anyone of her like again.
  1. Verb

The word “like” is also typically used as a verb that indicates a state of being. Take for example, the sentence:

He likes baseball more than anything.

In this sentence, the word suggests the state of being of the pronoun “he,” and is therefore considered as a verb.

Definition:

a. to enjoy (something); to get pleasure from (something)

  • Example:
  • I like all Dan Brown’s books.

b. wish for; want

  • Example:
  • Would you like a cup of tea?
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