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Is the word "like" a preposition or verb in the sentence "You made me like this."

Any suggestions appreciated. Thank you!

  • 3
    It is ambiguous between verb and adjective, but not preposition. In the sense "find agreeable", it is a verb with "this" as direct object. By contrast, where the meaning is "resemble" it is an adjective. Note that "like" can be a preposition in, for example, "Like his brother, he went to Oxford University", where it is head of the adjunct "like his brother". – BillJ Dec 8 '16 at 10:55
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    @BillJ: I can see a meaning for "like" as a preposition meaning, roughly, "similar to"; the entire prepositional phrase would then serve as a predicate adjective. I don't see how the word "like" [rather than the prepositional phrase] would behave as an adjective in this sentence, however. If the sentence had been "Garlic made them like zombies", however, it could be a verb or preposition as in the original, but also an adjective "Most zombies were identical, except for the green zombies. The green ones were changed by an herb, however: garlic made them like [identical] zombies". – supercat Dec 8 '16 at 17:39
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    @BillJ: Are you suggesting that "like" is an adjective modifying "this"? That would seem an odd construct. Are there other adjectives that could behave likewise? – supercat Dec 8 '16 at 19:20
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    @supercat No, I think it's better to say that "like" is head of the AdjP with "this" as an obligatory complement. In the adjectival reading of "You made me like this", "me" is direct object and the AdjP "like this" is objective predicative complement. It ascribes the property of being "like this" to the direct object "me", cf "He made me happy". Adjectival "like" and a couple of other adjectives like "due" and "worth" are transitive adjectives, i.e. they licence (require) an NP complement. – BillJ Dec 8 '16 at 20:10
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    @BillJ: I'm not familiar with grammatical deconstruction that attaches complements to adjectives, rather than regarding the words that require complements as a different part of speech (e.g. a preposition). What would be a good reference for distinguishing prepositions from such adjectives? – supercat Dec 8 '16 at 20:10
37

Without context (or the pronunciation pattern), it's hard to tell. The sentence is ambiguous - it can very well be both.

"You made me like this." with "like" as a verb would mean "You forced me/caused me to enjoy this". For example:

- I thought you didn't like eggplant?
- You made me like this! Your cooking is amazing!

"You made me like this." with "like" as a preposition would mean "You caused me to become this kind of person". For example:

- You're so mean lately!
- You made me like this! You've always been mean to me!

The second usage is much more idiomatic, and the first is somewhat awkward, but both are valid.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – snailcar Dec 8 '16 at 15:23
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    It is worth mentioning that these two sentences can be distinguished when spoken aloud, they will have an emphasis on different words: the former would be "you made me like this" (or "you made me like this"), the latter would be "you made me like this!* (or "you made me like this!"). – BradC Dec 8 '16 at 22:17
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    @BradC Not necessarily. It could be "You made me like this", in which like could be either verb or preposition. – Dawood ibn Kareem Dec 9 '16 at 12:29
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“Like” can mean “resemble” or “enjoy”, so You made me like this has two possible meanings:

  • (a) You made me into the person I am now, or
  • (b) You made me enjoy something.

For example:

(a) We fight all the time now. I find that I’m getting angry even at work. You made me like this.

or

(b) I never knew I liked asparagus until you started serving it with butter. You made me like this!

Looking at this dictionary entry, we can see that like can function as a verb, noun, preposition, adjective, or adverb, but, after examining the definitions, it looks to me like it’s functioning as a preposition in instance (a) and as a verb in instance (b). Therefore, the answer to your question really depends on the intended meaning of your sentence – which you haven’t specified.

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