Author Topic: "Like" vs. "As if"  (Read 656 times)

Al Macy (aka TromboneAl)

"Like" vs. "As if"
« on: October 29, 2018, 12:53:53 AM »
When I find a clear-cut grammar rule I follow it religiously.

Here's the rule I use with "like" vs. "as if": "If the clause that comes next includes a verb, then you should use as. For example, Squiggly throws as if he were a raccoon ..." (from: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/like-versus-as ).

My editor suggests that sometimes I should use "like" even when "as if" is called for. It's more colloquial, and I use so many similes that all the "as if"s get monotonous.

Also, I've found that many popular authors use "like" and "as if" interchangeably.

What about you?

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Wifey

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2018, 02:47:28 AM »
In dialogue, I tend to use like unless I want the character to sound like Cher from Clueless.. Otherwise I stick with as if.
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guest215

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Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2018, 03:02:28 AM »
Tricky one. Grammar rules often don't keep up with modern usage.

When I'm reading Jane Austen and other classics, I expect a certain, proper prose. When I'm reading something more modern, I expect a modern approach to common use. When I get a "may not" instead of "can not" or a "whom" instead of a "who," it can stick out like a sore thumb.

People today don't use "as if" much in spoken language. As a result, I'm careful how I use it in my prose. If "as if" slides right in so that it won't hang the reader up, then I'll use that. But if "like" will keep them skimming through, then I use that.

It's all about user/reader experience.
 

elleoco

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2018, 07:02:23 AM »
To me like sounds modern and colloquial. Since I write historicals, I don't use if often.

David VanDyke

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2018, 09:26:52 AM »
I mostly use as if, unless deliberately trying to write down for some reason, or in dialogue.
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Frank Feliz

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Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2018, 03:45:38 PM »
For me, it just depends on the story, such as the era, how the characters would authentically speak, if it's a trendy YA book, etc. I've used both, but in the narrative, I almost always use "as if". I don't use "as though", though. I'm not against it; it just sounds way too formal.

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VanessaC

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2018, 09:31:30 PM »
Interesting!  I am struggling to remember the last time I used "as if" - apart from the Cher example quoted above, it sounds more formal to me.  However, I'm pretty sure I use "like" all the time, and probably incorrectly.

That said, I'm one of the many millions who made it through the school system with no formal grammar education, and many of the "rules" I use are because it feels right, rather than because I know there's a "rule".  :eek:
 

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Llano

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2018, 12:22:58 AM »
In dialogue, I tend to use like unless I want the character to sound like Cher from Clueless.. Otherwise I stick with as if.

By the time Clueless came out teenage girls were already using "Like!" as much as "As if!"
 

spin52

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2018, 01:55:40 AM »
To me like sounds modern and colloquial. Since I write historicals, I don't use if often.
Same here. In my contemporary books, I'd use 'like'. For the historical ones, 'as if'.


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Bill Hiatt

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Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2018, 03:30:14 AM »
For dialog, I'd mostly use like instead of as if. In other cases, I'd stick with as if when it was the grammatically correct choice unless it sounded incredibly awkward.

I've noticed interesting variations among the editors I've used. Some are sticklers for correct grammar even when I (a former English teacher) wouldn't be. Sometimes they want instead whatever flows best, even if it tramples on two or three different grammatical conventions in one sentence. For some Chicago Manual of Style is the last word, no matter what. For others, CMOS is by no means such a rigid guide. All of these people have publishing industry experience, yet their responses are not consistent.

Publishing houses normally have their own guidelines, which are probably based on CMOS but may deviate from it in some ways. Since we are all publishers, we can theoretically do the same thing--as long as we are consistent in the way we handle the same situation.

« Last Edit: December 17, 2018, 03:35:02 AM by Bill Hiatt »


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djmills

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Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2018, 09:41:14 AM »
When I find a clear-cut grammar rule I follow it religiously.

Here's the rule I use with "like" vs. "as if": "If the clause that comes next includes a verb, then you should use as. For example, Squiggly throws as if he were a raccoon ..." (from: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/like-versus-as ).

My editor suggests that sometimes I should use "like" even when "as if" is called for. It's more colloquial, and I use so many similes that all the "as if"s get monotonous.

Also, I've found that many popular authors use "like" and "as if" interchangeably.

What about you?
The answer is "it depends" ... but, if you are a stage one writer then go with whichever is in use in your country.
Now to confuse you ... :-)
Once you have moved on to a Stage Two writer and above, you will first ask, "is it the point of view character's thoughts or dialogue or the writer's speech pattern"? Eliminate the writer's speech pattern, to stay in the mind of the character's point of view. Otherwise it is not the POV character. So look how you developed that other character's background.  Depending on age and where he/she grew up, use that speech pattern. :-) That way, you are writing distinctive characters, and it helps to not have all your characters sound the same. :-)
 

Marigold

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2018, 07:05:58 AM »
For dialog, I'd mostly use like instead of as if. In other cases, I'd stick with as if when it was the grammatically correct choice unless it sounded incredibly awkward.

I've noticed interesting variations among the editors I've used. Some are sticklers for correct grammar even when I (a former English teacher) wouldn't be. Sometimes they want instead whatever flows best, even if it tramples on two or three different grammatical conventions in one sentence. For some Chicago Manua :goodpost:l of Style is the last word, no matter what. For others, CMOS is by no means such a rigid guide. All of these people have publishing industry experience, yet their responses are not consistent.

Publishing houses normally have their own guidelines, which are probably based on CMOS but may deviate from it in some ways. Since we are all publishers, we can theoretically do the same thing--as long as we are consistent in the way we handle the same situation.

                                  :goodpost:
 

Dave MacRae

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2018, 09:42:17 PM »
"Like, I'm going to the mall Blaire. Are you coming?"
"No way Tiffany, Brent will be there. Like, he still thinks I'm his girlfriend. AS IF!"

Now I have valley girl talk stuck in my head. I hope it does not not seep into my writing today. It would be pretty funny coming out of a hardboiled detective.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2018, 09:45:46 PM by Dave MacRae »
 
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Llano

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2018, 03:34:08 AM »
"Like, I'm going to the mall Blaire. Are you coming?"
"No way Tiffany, Brent will be there. Like, he still thinks I'm his girlfriend. AS IF!"

Now I have valley girl talk stuck in my head. I hope it does not not seep into my writing today. It would be pretty funny coming out of a hardboiled detective.

I wrote a screenplay 20 years ago where aliens came to earth, captured some teenage girls, and learned to speak English by listening to them. It was not a comedy. Writing the alien English dialog was fun.
 

Dave MacRae

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2018, 07:41:00 AM »
That would be an interesting story. I would feel bad for the aliens all speaking like teen girls, but it could be worse. It could be teenage boy surfer dude take like Pauly Shore.

On a serious note I do not like using a lot of similes. I would rewrite some of them as direct comparisons.

i.e. He dream walked instead of he walked as if in a dream, or she was a dream instead of she looked like a dream.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 07:57:33 AM by Dave MacRae »
 

TinkSaid

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2019, 01:37:57 AM »
Left a thanks to Dave for making me laugh.

Once upon a time, I'd spend almost an entire five minutes switching between like, as if, as though. Agonising between glance and look took even longer.

Now it's the first that springs to mind because I suspect in the grand scheme of story, readers don't really care.
 

Matt Godbey

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2019, 08:03:46 AM »
By the time Clueless came out teenage girls were already using "Like!" as much as "As if!"

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M.SusanneWiggins

Re: "Like" vs. "As if"
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 07:47:51 AM »
I lean more toward ‘as though’ and ‘like’ in narrative. In dialogue? I tend to avoid the use of similes and/or metaphors. For me personally, as a writer and a reader, ‘as if’ (especially when overused) screams, as noted above: Clueless.
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