I prefer to eat food like cake.
Does this mean ‘food, for example, cake’ or ‘food that is similar to cake’?
The ambiguity can be solved by using ‘like’ to introduce a comparison and ‘such as’ to introduce an example. This usage of ‘like’ is perfectly acceptable in many contexts as long as the difference in meaning is recognised.
However, it should be avoided in formal writing; there are more appropriate, and clearer, alternatives.
- The Penguin Writer’s Manual, Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis
2 thoughts on “The ambiguity of ‘like’”
Or it could mean, “I prefer to eat food in the manner that I eat cake.” Very ambiguous, indeed. Thanks for following my blog!
Yes, it certainly could! ‘Like’ is a word that has to be used carefully or you could have all manner of food-related misunderstandings. Thank you for visiting my blog!
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