1. I don't make wrong decisions, like Mary.

  2. Like Mary, I don't make wrong decisions.

When we are comparing A and B, Is there is a difference between using Like before and after a negative clause?

1 Answer 1


When we use like or as before a negative clause, this comparison refers to the whole clause.

Like Mary, I don't make wrong decisions. (Mary doesn't make wrong decisions.)

Using like or as after a negative clause, refers to the positive part of the previous clause.

I don't make wrong decisions, like Mary. (Mary makes wrong decisions.)

  • 1
    I've upvoted because in the specific context under consideration your "rule" seems credible enough. But actually I think the underlying principle is more like By default, the referent of like in such constructions is the nearest credible word or term [in the utterance]. Applying that "rule" gives the same result for the example under consideration, but it can also be applied more generally to any such "adverbial" element. And although the specific example usually wouldn't be considered ambiguous, in principle it is (especially since the comma steers towards "sentence adverb"). Aug 26, 2018 at 18:04
  • I think the second sentence would really need to end "like Mary does" in order to be definitely interpreted in that way. Without that, it's quite ambiguous. Aug 26, 2018 at 20:20
  • @DanielRoseman What if I omit comma before "like" in the second sentence? Does it still sound ambiguous?
    – helen
    Aug 26, 2018 at 20:38

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