5
He is not fond of sweets, like his brother.
He is not fond of sweets, unlike his brother.

My situation is:

His brother is fond of sweets but he is not.

To make this sense, which one from the pair of sentences at the top do I use? What would the other sentence of the pair mean anyway?

I think leaving out the comma in the first sentence has a different meaning from that with comma.

Edit

Does leaving out the comma in the first sentence mean anything different? If it does, what would be the meanings with and without the comma?

2

He is not fond of sweets like his brother.

Without the comma, this sentence could be read as either:

[He is not] [fond of sweets] [like his brother.] (who is fond of sweets)
or
[He is] [not fond of sweets] [like his brother.] (who is also not fond of sweets)
or as User1986 has pointed out
[He is not fond of] [sweets like his brother]. (who is a gingerbread man maybe?)

The third interpretation doesn't make much sense in the limited context we have, but it does demonstrate how ambiguous a sentence without commas can be. The punctuation resolves the ambiguity by making the first part of the sentence one thought:

[He is not fond of sweets,] [(like/unlike) his brother].

In the sentence with the comma, if you use like, his brother has similar taste and is also not fond of sweets. If you use unlike, his brother is different and is fond of sweets. So, for your situation, you would use unlike.

  • Almost all the answers were helpful, but I am accepting this one because it takes into account all the aspects of the question, and more importantly, the part that I needed most. – Sнаđошƒаӽ Mar 23 '15 at 17:05
4

Good Question.

The second sentence is right, in this case.

Like - It means ' similar to '.

He is not fond of sweets, like his brother.

Here, he and his brother are not fond of sweets.

Unlike - when using to contrast somebody or something with another person or thing.

He is not fond of sweets, unlike his brother.

Here, he is not fond of sweets but his brother is fond of sweets.

  • But you have not said anything about the last line in my question – Sнаđошƒаӽ Mar 18 '15 at 15:39
  • 2
    The last line was not a question. – Brian Hitchcock Mar 20 '15 at 8:10
2

Let's break things down, and use a simple example.

I'm fond of sweets. My brother is also fond of them.

We can join these sentences in at least the following 2 ways:

  • I'm fond of sweets, like my brother. (= we are the same when it comes to sweets)
  • My brother, like me, is fond of sweets. (same thing)

Let's look at the negative example.

I'm not fond of sweets. My brother is.

  • I'm not fond of sweets, unlike my brother. (= me and my brother differ in our preference for sweets).
  • My brother is fond of sweets, unlike me. (= again, we differ)

Since in your example the two brothers differ in their tastes, you need to use:

He is not fond of sweets, unlike his brother.

The top sentence you posted means that they both are not fond of sweets.

  • 1
    I like your answer, and I think the comma makes a difference worth mentioning. Without the comma, the sentence could be read "He is not fond of sweets like his brother (who is fond of sweets)" or "He is not fond of sweets like his brother (who is also not fond of sweets). The punctuation resolves the ambiguity. – ColleenV Mar 18 '15 at 20:56
  • @ColleenV Precisely! And that's exactly what I wrote in the question in the first place (but in the end did not keep that portion, though). And I knew all that is given as answers here, but just to see what others have in mind about the use of comma, I wrote that question. Anyway, you could add your version as an answer too. – Sнаđошƒаӽ Mar 19 '15 at 6:00
  • @ColleenV you really should put your own answer, I would be glad to accept that :-) – Sнаđошƒаӽ Mar 23 '15 at 6:53
  • Using the sentence without the comma would be a bad choice because it would be very confusing. There are many better ways of saying it, including using the comma. – Catija Mar 23 '15 at 6:54
2

You use "like" to show that two things are the same, and "dislike" to show that they are different.

He is not fond of sweets, like his brother.

He is not fond of sweets. His brother is like him. His brother is the same as him. His brother also does not like sweets. This is NOT the meaning you want.

He is not fond of sweets, unlike his brother.

He is not fond of sweets. His brother is NOT like him. His brother is different than him. His brother DOES like sweets. This is the meaning you want.


As for your last question, removing the comma does change the meaning.

He is not fond of sweets like his brother.

This sentence doesn't make sense in the real world. It is suggesting that his brother IS a sweet, and that he doesn't like his brother. With the comma, the speaker is not fond of sweets. Without the comma, the speaker is not fond of sweets like his brother.

For this sentence to be correct, the brother would have to be made out of chocolate. The subject may or may not like sweets in general, but he does not like his chocolate-brother.

Edit Some more ambiguous meanings could be interpreted as well when comma is left out, as pointed out in the answer by ColleenV

  • I get your point but can't agree with you on your second part. Perhaps you should take a look at the comment by ColleenV in RuslanD's answer. – Sнаđошƒаӽ Mar 19 '15 at 6:04
  • 1
    While I don't agree that interpreting his brother as a bit of chocolate is the only way the sentence without the comma is sensible, I do think that it is an interesting reading of the ambiguity. What if it read "He is not fond of blondes like his brother."? Then we have at least three different ways to read the sentence, not just the two I first thought of, so +1. – ColleenV Mar 23 '15 at 16:54
  • @ColleenV that's right. I didn't see that first time either! Without comma the meaning as pointed out by User1986 could also be interpreted, wrongly of course. so +1 by me too, though I did -1 earlier :-( – Sнаđошƒаӽ Mar 23 '15 at 17:09

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