He made out like he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't.

He made out that he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't.

He made out he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't.

I looked up make out in the dictionary and it said make out that is right, but i can remember hearing people use make out like, I haven't heard anyone use the third one though. Are all those sentences grammatically correct? Do they mean the same thing?

  • You need to add what you are trying to say, along with the definitions you found. I don't think your examples involve regular usage. Commonly, you make out something you can't see or hear, or make out with a lover.
    – user3169
    Apr 16, 2018 at 19:55
  • @user3169 I mean it in the sense of someone pretending. Like "he pretended he was rich, wearing those rich-guy clothes, but we all knew the truth was far from that." Apr 17, 2018 at 6:48
  • 1
    All three are acceptable variations of "made out", although keep in mind this is a colloquialism that might not be familiar to all English speakers. Because of its relatively limited use, I'd have to guess which is most common. I actually like the third one -- I'll have to remember to use it.
    – Andrew
    Apr 17, 2018 at 15:56
  • A more modern usage might be "He acted like he'd..."
    – user3169
    Apr 17, 2018 at 19:27
  • Those phrases don’t mean the same, and “whereas he hadn’t…” adds nothing useful; only confusion. “He made out like…” will always be understood as meaning the same as “He made out that…” but “like” will always be bad English. “He made out he’d…” falls about half-way between the others: wholly comprehensible; hardly justifiable. Jul 9, 2018 at 20:20

3 Answers 3


In this context, "made out" normally means "implied", that is to suggest something without explicitly stating it, although as it can also mean a form of deception it could include lying or making a false statement.

A simple way to test which is correct is to substitute the expression for word "implied" (or "stated", either work, but in my examples I will use implied):

He implied like he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't. INCORRECT

He implied that he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't. CORRECT

He implied he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't. CORRECT

Is "made out like..." sometimes used? Yes, idiomatically, and generally in US English, although some British English speakers are influenced by US culture and so it is not entirely unheard of in British English.

"Like" is a comparative term used to say that two things are alike either in one or several comparable ways, but not usually to suggest that two things are identical or the same in every way. If the purpose of a statement like yours is to say that someone suggested, hinted, implied or directly stated that someone is something or did something, then saying their speech made out "like" something brings in doubt. In some cases, that might be what you want to say, for example:

He made out like I was an idiot or something.

I would take from such a statement that the speaker felt they had been unfairly maligned. There is no suggestion that the other party actually called them an "idiot", but perhaps what they said made them look foolish. This is an example of a fairly common expression and is less direct that your examples in which there cannot be any hyperbole or comparison - either someone read a book, or they did not.


He made out like he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't.

Usually it will be make it out like:

He made it out like he'd read the book, whereas he hadn't.

  • Sorry, and in English that would never be "make it out like". Jul 9, 2018 at 20:12
  • Care to elaborate?
    – LawrenceC
    Jul 9, 2018 at 20:50
  • How, please? That would be elaborating a negative…still, to "make out like" is commonly used for to "pretend" while in 60 years of listening and reading, I don't recall ever having met you "make it out like." I say "your" because just as "make out" does, so "make it out" does hve the almost opposite meaning not to "pretend" or "give the appearance of" but to "discern". As in "there seems to be something happening over there but I can't quite make it out…" whihc surely has no place here? Jul 12, 2018 at 15:58

I don't know if the expression 'make something out like' is formally correct. But it seems that it is still in use because you can find an example in the first episode of the British Series Fleabag:

Fleabag: You know that feeling when a guy sends you a text at two o'clock on a Tuesday night asking if he can come and find you and you've accidentally made it out like you've just got in yourself so you have to get out of bed, drink half a bottle of wine, get in the shower, shave everything, dig out some Agent Provocateur business, suspender belt the whole bit and wait by the door til the buzzer goes?


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