It looks as though the word LOOK isn’t as easy to use as it looks. In this English vocabulary lesson we look at this word in its different uses. It may seem simple, but you’ll see that there are several different meanings here. I’ll help you understand what native speakers are trying to say when they use these short combinations of words.
Learn Vocabulary – look, look like, look alike, look as if… video
Hi. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. I’m Adam. Today’s lesson comes from a request by a few students actually about how to use the verb: “look”. Especially when I have: “look”, “look like”, “look alike”, “look as if”, “look as though”. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to explain the different uses because this is a very common verb and very useful for everybody to know.
So first, let’s look at the plain verb: “look”. “He looks happy.”, “She looks sad.” In this case, very straightforward. The verb means have the appearance of, to appear in a certain way. So it’s always about physical appearance, what the eyes can see. “He looks sad.” Means maybe has a frown. “Looks happy.” Big smile. Right? Doesn’t matter what the appearance is, that’s what we use “look” for. “Look” plus usually an adjective or etcetera.
Now, “look like”. Technically, this “like” is a preposition, it’s a verb plus a preposition. Now, many people will say: “It looks like it’s going to rain.” Now, does this seem like a good sentence to you, like a correct sentence to you? “It looks like it’s going to rain.” If you say: “Yes”, don’t worry – most people, including native English speakers will say this sentence. “Oh, it looks like it’s going to rain.” Clouds, grey clouds, a little bit chilly, looks like it’s going to rain. Technically, this is incorrect. You could say: “It looks like rain.” That would be okay. After “like” which is a preposition-okay?-you cannot have a clause, you cannot have a subject and verb. You can only have a noun or an adjective, etcetera. “It looks like rain.” That’s the… That’s the appearance we have. Okay? But again, many, many people including native English speakers use this incorrectly. If you do, don’t worry about it. Everybody will understand you. If you’re writing an academic PhD thesis, don’t do that.
Now, when can I use a clause after “like”? After “look”, I’m sorry. You can do it with the conjunction: “as”. Okay? “Looks”… “Look as if” or: “Look as though” is a verb and a conjunction. After a conjunction, you can have the subordinate clause. A comparative adverb clause with a subject and a verb. “It looks as if it was going to rain.”, “It looks as if it were going to rain.”, “It looks as though it was going to rain.” Okay? Or: “It looked as though it was going to rain.” Now, we’ll get back to that in a second.
We also have: “look alike”. Okay? This is a verb plus an adjective. “Look alike” is when two things look similar to each other. So Bob and his brother, Bill, really look alike. Means they look like brothers, they look almost the same or very similar. Right? Keep in mind you can also have a “lookalike” which is a noun actually. Now, if you ever go to Las Vegas, you will see many men especially, I’m sure women do it as well, but many men dressed like Elvis Presley. You know, they have the hair, they have that suit, the glasses – they are called lookalikes, they’re impersonators. They pretend to be somebody else; they dress the same, they look the same, they act the same, speak the same, etcetera. Lots of places you will see like Princess Diana lookalikes or-what’s her name?-Kate now. Kate? Yeah, that’s the new princess. Lots of lookalikes, people pretend to look like that.
Now, “look as if”, “look as though”. I’ve done a bit of research on this because someone asked me to find out what the difference is. Most teachers, many books, if not, most books will tell you that there is absolutely no difference between the two. So if you interchange them, if you use them the same way, one or the other… “It looks like it’s like…”, “It looks as if it were going to rain.”, “It looks as though it were going to rain.” No problem, everybody will understand you. If you write it, also, probably no problem.
I’ll tell you how I personally use the two a little bit differently. Okay? For me, “looks as if” talks about a possibility. Okay? It might be that way, it’s more of a hypothetical because of the word: “if”. We usually use “if” as a hypothetical; maybe yes, maybe no, we don’t really know, possible. “Looks as though” I would say is a bit more probable, a probability.
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