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Say my intention is to say "I did this bad things to her, but you shouldn't do it":

  • Don't do that mean thing to her like how I did.
  • Don't do that mean thing to her unlike how I did.

This is so confusing. Should I use "like" or "unlike"?

  • I included (what I think is) the question at the end of the post and I changed the formatting a little bit. You can find more tips in the Contributor's Guide. – Em. Oct 13 '18 at 5:20
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The problem with the sentence is that it's slightly ambiguous no matter which word you use. (But the how makes it ungrammatical, so I will remove it in the following discussion.)


With like:

Don't do that mean thing to her like I did.

This could be interpreted as saying:

If you do that mean thing to her, don't do it in the same manner as I did.


With unlike:

Don't do that mean thing to her unlike I did.

While this is awkward and should probably be rephrased, you could interpret it as:

If you do that mean thing to her, don't do it differently than I did.


Neither sentence is necessarily telling the other person to refrain from doing that mean thing to her.

Following are two different ways of explicitly saying not to do the mean thing:

Unlike me, don't do that mean thing to her.

Here, unlike me is used as qualifying (and nonessential) information. The essential information is what follows the comma. (Don't do that mean thing to her.)

Don't be like me and do that mean thing to her.

Here, everything is essential. It's saying don't be like me and don't do that mean thing to her.


The use of like or unlike depends on how the rest of the sentence is constructed.

  • I kind of wanted that specific format because I was writing something. A very clear explanation. Thank you! – Chris Oct 13 '18 at 6:00

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