1)The illness causes chest pains and flu-like symptoms [suffix type of ''like'']

2)The illness causes chest pains and symptoms like flu. [preposition type of ''like'']

İs there any difference between these two sentence in the meaning in nuance and are both sentences correct grammatically?

  • 2
    The flu is not a symptom. It's an actual disease. That's why symptoms like the flu is already a nonsensical phrase. Commented May 20, 2018 at 16:52
  • 1
    The OP didn't say that flu was a symptom; he said "flu-like symptoms" and "symptoms like flu". Both are fine.
    – BillJ
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 16:55
  • Alright. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. Commented May 20, 2018 at 16:59
  • 1
    "flu-like symptoms" is more elegant than "symptoms that are like those of the flu." symptoms like flu is wrong. flu is not a symptom; it's an illness. symptoms like having a runny nose, fever, and arching bones: those are symptoms.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


There is normally no difference. X-like is simply an abbreviated way to say like the/an X, and is often preferred because it is less wordy.


She habitually wore an expression like a cat, of self-satisfied complacency.
She habitually wore a catlike expression of self-satisfied complacency.

She processed the forms with an efficiency like a machine, working through the entire stack in less than an hour.
She processed the forms with machine-like efficiency, working through the entire stack in less than an hour.

Note the construction "X-like" can be used with nearly anything:

He pitched his plan to the group of investors with Trump-like bravado.

(Edit) As stangdon's comment mentions, be careful of confusing the different meanings of "like". For example:

They like a good movie.

is different from

They are like a good movie.

The comment references a popular English grammar pun:

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

The second part can be interpreted two ways, either "fruit flies (the insect) like bananas" or "fruit flies (through the air) like a banana".

(Edit 2) Lambie's objection is that while flu-like symptoms is fine, symptoms like a/the flu is not. Strictly speaking, I agree. "The flu" is an illness, and is not directly comparable to the symptoms of an illness.

The correct expression should be something like:

symptoms like those that you get from the flu

That being said, many English speakers will shorten this to symptoms like the flu.

  • 5
    Although we should note that in a lot of contexts "like a Y" can be ambiguous, as in "Fruit flies like a banana".
    – stangdon
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 17:34
  • 1
    There is an error in the understanding of phrase "symptoms like flu"; No one has dealt with this grammar point. The two expressions are not the same here in this medical context. A cat-like expression may be an expression like a cat. Yes.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 21:15

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