"He looks very Spanish" - is this sentence correct? Does it mean the same as "He looks like Spanish"?

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    I see nothing at all wrong with "He looks very Spanish", in any register. "He looks like Spanish" is ungrammatical, because "look like" needs to be followed by a noun phrase or (in colloquial use) a finite clause. – Colin Fine Dec 28 '18 at 16:48
  • @ColinFine But in the sentence "Will the Spanish be forced to bring in troops to forcibly take control of Catalonia?" Spanish is actually a noun. And "the Spanish" is an NP. So I really don't see how "he looks like Spanish" is incorrect. – Man_From_India Dec 28 '18 at 17:08
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    The Spanish is a noun phrase (the people, the state perhaps). Spanish as a noun means the language. – Michael Harvey Dec 28 '18 at 17:23
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    OK, @Man_From_India: "He looks like Spanish" is not ungrammatical. But since "Spanish" (without an article) is a noun only with the meaning "the Spanish language", the only coherent interpretation of "He looks like Spanish" is "He looks like the Spanish language", whatever that might mean. – Colin Fine Dec 28 '18 at 17:54
  • "He looks like Spanish" is too vague to be make any sense. You could say "He looks like the Spanish" or "He looks like a Spanish person" or "He looks like Spanish people." But I think "He looks like Spanish" is awkward as hell, if not ungrammatical. – Ringo Dec 28 '18 at 22:52

It isn’t correct.

You could say:

He looks Spanish

But removing very removes the fact that he is obviously Spanish

He looks extremely like a Spanish man

Extremely shows it is obvious that he is Spanish

It is very obvious that he is Spanish

Obvious shows he is clearly Spanish


"He looks very Spanish" is fine. Also: "He looks Spanish"; "He looks a little bit Spanish"; "He looks extremely Spanish"... etc. These are correct sentences.

Whether or not he is from Spain does not affect whether he can look Spanish either. You could correctly say, "I happen to know he was born in Madrid, and he looks extremely Spanish." Or, "He is from Spain, but he certainly does not look at all Spanish."

But : as @Michael Harvey and @Colin Fine say, "He looks like Spanish" is not right. A person can only "look like" a noun, (or something that functions as a noun in the sentence). "He looks like a Spaniard", "He looks like he is Spanish", or "He looks like the Spanish" [i.e. "He looks like the Spanish People look"] are OK.

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