Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Today's Writing Tip Is When to Use "Like" and When to Use "As If"

Like and As If

Recently, my mother said to me, “I feel like a bowl of soup.” I replied, “You don’t look like a bowl of soup” and she grimaced. Ordinarily the family grammarian, my mother would have been better off saying, “I feel like having a bowl of soup” unless indeed she felt wet, warm, and slushy.

If you like ice cream, if someone is running like a bear, if it feels like 120° in the shade, that’s the appropriate way to write it. But if you write, “I feel like going home,” that’s not optimal grammar. It’s better to say, “I want to go home.” And instead of writing, “I felt like he didn’t respect me” write, “I felt as though…” or “I felt as if he didn’t respect me” because the first phrase is slang, but the second and third are not.

However, if you want to use that line when you are composing dialogue that’s fine because we know you’re simulating authentic conversation. That works especially well if you’re quoting a teenager, who won't necessarily be speaking in full sentences or using proper grammar.

This is unrelated to the word “like” that frequently pops up in slang, especially for those under the age of twenty-five or thirty. “I went to the movie and it was, like, so sweet!” It’s all right to use that sentence in dialogue but the grammar police will be all over your case if you use it in any other context.

This is an excerpt from the book Be Your Own Editor, by Sigrid Macdonald. Visit her at:  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Free Search Engine Optimization