When I want to show my uncertainty in a sentence, for all I know, I can use, such as seem, as if, appear to, look like, seem like, sound like. is there any difference in these words or phrases. saying 'it sounds like he is annoyed', 'it seems that he is annoyed' and 'it is as if he is annoyed', does these sentences express the same meaning?

Additionally, if I'd like to assume an untrue situation, that I think will be the second or third condition, can I use anyone above freely or some of them can't be used in this way?

for example, I feel like/as if I were a bird, can I use like that?

  • You seem to be asking three questions here. Can you give an example of what you mean in the second question? The third question, asking for list is not a good fit for the site, there are probably hundreds of ways to "express uncertainty", I'd suggest removing the third part, and clarifying the first two questions with examples.
    – James K
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 7:32
  • Sorry about the inappropriate parts. I have revised it.@ James K
    – Young
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 7:47

1 Answer 1


do these sentences express the same meaning? (seem, as if, appear to, look like, seem like, sound like)

The quick answer is "yes".

Although whenever you have alternative choices they may have nuanced differences. "Sound like" brings to mind spoken words or thoughts. "Looks like" indicates visible appearances. Yet, even these may end up being used interchangeably.

I feel like I were a bird

The tenses should match up, so it would sound better as "I felt like I was a bird" or "I feel like I am a bird".

I feel as if I were a bird

That may be alright. Other variations could be "I felt as if I were a bird" or "I feel as if I am a bird". From a US English perspective all of these "I feel as if" variations have a poetic or archaic quality. "I felt like" or "I feel like" are more common.

Further discussion of the Subjunctive Mood:

"as if/as though" usually takes the subjunctive mood for hypothetical/imaginary situations. The subjunctive is often used with the word "if". Therefore "I feel as if I were a bird" is correct.

Next, "I feel like I am a bird" has the standard indicative, not the subjunctive. Why? A few reasons come to mind.

  • "like" already indicates an imaginary situation, so it does not need to be re-emphasized with a different verb tense.
  • It's not hypothetical to look or feel "like" something. You're not saying that you "are" a bird, only "like" one. So it becomes factual, rather than hypothetical.
  • BTW - casual (not formal or proper) conversation sometimes drops the subjunctive mood.
  • "if", "as if", "as though" are not present.
  • Thank you very much. The reason I uesd I were a bird instead of was or am a bird is a human can't be a bird and it is a assumption and a untrue thing, so to me it should be subjunctive mood, Im not sure if my understanding is right though. @Sam
    – Young
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 9:32

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