1. They seemed a nice couple.

  2. They seemed to be a nice couple.

  3. They seemed like a nice couple.

Are they all correct?

  • 2
    Yes, they are all correct. Compared to the others, the second sentence is careful and perhaps a shade less colloquial: more guarded. It might convey a faint suspicion that they were not as they seemed. Mar 11, 2021 at 9:21
  • @ Old Brixtonian, I think that taken out of context you could not really say that, that comparison is valid. However any of the three sentences with the addition of "but" would infer what you are implying with regard to the second sentence. "They seemed like a nice couple, but you...."
    – Brad
    Mar 11, 2021 at 9:50
  • For what it's worth I agree with @OldBrixtonian, seemed to be feels like it's introducing an element of doubt or guardedness, whereas the others just feel like they're describing an impression. It's very subtle and subjective, but it's worth being aware that some might pick up on that tone. Mar 11, 2021 at 11:04
  • In that case I will go with the majority
    – Brad
    Mar 11, 2021 at 11:07
  • ...also the very popular earlier question When is “seems to be” used instead of “seems”? Mar 11, 2021 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


1.They seemed a nice couple.

2.They seemed to be a nice couple.

3.They seemed like a nice couple.

Item 1 I will ignore as it is the same as item 2 as the sentence implies (to be)

2.They seemed to be a nice couple.

We use [BE] 1 to describe feelings and situations:

They seemed to be a nice couple = my feeling was, that they are a pleasant couple

3.They seemed like a nice couple.

They seemed like a nice couple. = to have a positive opinion about this couple

[Like] 2 verb [T] (ENJOY); to enjoy or approve of something or someone:

Nice is an adjective meaning ‘pleasant’, ‘enjoyable’ or ‘satisfactory’:

Therefore my answer would be; although there is a subtle difference in the choice of words the meaning is the same in all three sentences.

All references CED

  • 2
    But in (3), like is not a verb, so this definition does not apply. You want the prepositional definition: similar to; in the same way or manner as (same source). Mar 11, 2021 at 9:47
  • (or actually, the definition of seem like as an idiom as a whole) Mar 11, 2021 at 9:48

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