What are the import and meaning of like in 'to seem like' ? (https://english.stackexchange.com/a/11324/50720 is mute on this.) Why is like necessary? 'seem' alone already means:

seem [no object] = 1. Give the impression of being something or having a particular quality

Based on http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conjunctions.htm, I guess that like here is a preposition and not a conjunction? How do you determine/deduce this rigorously?

Strictly speaking, the word like is a preposition, not a conjunction

Obiter dictum: I focus on 'to seem like' here, compared with this question on the differences.

  • Can you provide some example sentences with seem like that you want to analyze? You ask "why is like necessary", but provide no examples. Why is it necessary where? Jan 28, 2015 at 3:30
  • @CopperKettle Thanks. I'll try to find some reputable examples; please allow me a few days.
    – user8712
    Jan 28, 2015 at 3:41
  • My guess is that you mean something like: "It seems like you already know this." in which the like could be dropped to get: "It seems you already know this."
    – Jim
    Jan 28, 2015 at 4:43
  • You should check "import" (rare) and "mute" in the dictionary. "like" is also used for "as if".
    – rogermue
    Jun 28, 2015 at 6:01

3 Answers 3


Normally a sentence is not just "to seem like" but in this case the like, means to be similar to. For example "to seem similar" would mean the same thing. As I said this is not a complete sentence. It may be used as such: The situation seems like it is under control.


I'm not sure it's a matter of grammar - seems (:)) more like semantics to me.

Like would be employed when it's actually like something (a noun).

(1) (it) Seems like the car.


(2) (it) Seems the car has broken down.

In my limited opinion, the first usage would focus on the thing. The second usage would focus more on the adjective or verb, etc - the state of the thing.

Of course you can say

(3) (it) Seems like the car has broken down.

But the emphasis still feels closer to talking about the car, rather than describing what's happened to it. Hope that helps.

This is just intuitive for me - happy if someone can counter example this?


Actually "like" is an adjective used with a complement as in :

  • They are as like as two peas (in a pod).

  • One pea is like the other / One pea seems like the other.

"like" can also be seen as a preposition as in

  • a man like a bear - though it is still an adjektive.

"like" has extended its uses to the detriment os "as" and is often used as a conjunction, pushing back "as". Obviously people find it not practical to distinguish between "like" and "as".

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