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'like' as verb and preposition
Skiing

Jose Luis Luque studying English in the UK writes:

Could you please tell me the difference between like as a verb and as a preposition?


Roger Woodham replies:

like

Like as a verb is used mainly to talk about enjoyment, preferences and habits. It is perhaps not quite as strong in emotional terms as love, or be fond of or be keen on. Compare the following:

  • Do you like cross-country skiing? ~ Yeah, I quite like it now, but I still prefer downhill.
  • When I’m making a cold drink, I always like to put the ice and slices of lemon in first.
  • How did you like the pumpkin soup? ~ Oh, I liked it very much.
  • I’ve got blackcurrant mousse for desert. Do you like blackcurrants? ~ Oh, I love them.
  • He’s a very kind person. I like him very much, but I could never go out with him.
  • I’m a very social person but I don’t like people following me around all the time.

Note that like is not normally used in the progressive form and cannot normally be used without an object:

  • What do you think of the conversation classes? ~ I like them. (NOT: I’m liking them.)
  • Do you like garage music? ~ Yes, I do. OR: Yes, I like it. (NOT: Yes, I like.)

 

     

would like to = want to

Take care not to confuse like with would like to. They have quite different meanings. Compare the following and note the structural differences when using them:

  • I'd like to / I want to send this parcel by international recorded delivery, please.
  • Are you interested in going to the match on Saturday. ~ Yes, I'd like to. / Yes, I want to.
  • If you'd like to / you want to take your coat off, please do. It's rather hot in here.
  • I would like to visit him in hospital, but my wife doesn't want to. She doesn't like hospitals.
  • I would have liked to have seen John before he left for Canada, but Mary didn't want to.

Note that when used for requests and suggestions, would like to sometimes sounds slightly more polite than want to.

 
 

like as preposition

Like as a preposition with nouns or pronouns is used to express ideas of similarity or comparison. Compare the following:

  • When she's on stage, she looks a bit like Britney, but she sounds more like Madonna.
  • Like you, I prefer to eat my breakfast in the morning without engaging in small talk.
  • It was only five o' clock, but it seemed like the middle of the night, it was so dark.
  • These plants grow very well in hot countries, like Costa
    Rica
    and Venezuela.
  • What's Bournemouth like as a seaside town? ~ It's a little bit like Brighton. Quite lively!

To practise using like as a preposition and a verb look at our Message Board today.

 

 

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