I came across a sentence like "The room looked a big mess." (Macmillan Dictionary) "That looks an interesting book." My understanding is that "look" of this usage comes with adjective and "look like" comes with noun. Is there some omission of "like" here? Is this sentence structure common? Up to now I thought this structure was wrong, so I am very confused now.

  • 1
    Maybe this is just me, but I see a difference between your two examples. In the second, I would definitely require either looks like an interesting book or looks to be an interesting book. In the first, though, it sounds like an old-fashioned (or perhaps still modern, but British?) way of using look. In that case I equate "looked" in my head to "appeared to be". I think maybe the difference is that the first example uses look to mean what something actually appears like to the eye, whereas the second is figurative. But I'm just drawing together some vague thoughts here...
    – WendiKidd
    Oct 19, 2013 at 2:07
  • It's worth pointing out that the American edition doesn't list that sentence.
    – J.R.
    Oct 19, 2013 at 3:02

1 Answer 1


This is simply a regional difference. American speakers would usually use like here, but this is one of the expressions where Brits use a direct object instead of a prepositional phrase (agreed is another notable example).

  • 1
    Predicative complement rather than object, I think.
    – user230
    Oct 19, 2013 at 9:05
  • @snailboat Probably should not Stack Exchange at 4 in the morning. Feel free to edit. Oct 19, 2013 at 10:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .