Tastes Good Like/As If…?

By Maeve Maddox

I belong to a generation that remembers the Winston television ad:

Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.

English teachers everywhere in the United States had fits over that ad, but evidence was mustered that plenty of precedent existed for the use of like as a conjunction by recognized masters of English prose, including another “Winston”

We are overrun with them, like Australians were with rabbits. –Winston Churchill

Some people may continue to condemn the usage as “vulgar or slovenly,” but for the most part it has achieved respectability.

But what about the development of like if used in place of as if?

I’ve found numerous examples on the web, all of them preceded by the word just:

Just like if you were brought up on a farm, you would most likely carry on your father’s business as a farmer…

Just like if there is all of a sudden a demand for product X

it is just like if I bring a large statue and break it down into millions of billions of pieces

if you look for patterns, you’ll find them, just like if you spill a bunch of M&Ms on the floor

Run forward and bounce off from the balls of your feet, just like if you were doing a front flip layout.


This little croc had the neatest enclosure, just like if he were in the wild

If you hate Math, and openly show it, Math will not work for you because you will not let it, just like if you openly taunted and hated a gorilla…

I think the use of the word “just” may be provoking the inappropriate “like” in these examples because we are so used to the phrase “just like.” I suspect that if these writers had not used the word “just,” they may have gone for “as if.”

For example:

This little croc had the neatest enclosure, as if he were in the wild

One can never predict the direction that language will take.

For the present, like if takes its place on my list of expressions that induce blackboard moments.

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5 Responses to “Tastes Good Like/As If…?”

  • Gail Martini-Peterson

    Me, too. “Like” makes me cringe when used incorrectly.

    Worse yet, “fewer” and “less.”

    “Fewer are thing you can count like the numbers of dollars in your pocket, beans in the stew, pennies in the piggy-bank, items in ANYTHING. “My mom’s soup recipe has fewer cups of stewed tomatoes.”

    “Less” is any amount, something uncountable. Gas in the tank (not gallons), water in the jug (not drops or cups), dump load (not pounds), bus load, not passengers. “I have less junk in my garage than you do.”

    On another subject, did you actually use “alright” the other day? Is that like “alwrong”? Same thing but opposite, right?

  • Maeve

    Gail,
    MOI? alright?! Surely not. Where? Tell me where so I can stamp it out.

  • Charlie

    Reading this post my mind was talking “Valley Girl Speak”. (Yes I hear voices when I read, they make it more alive.) It’s like if I had this big zit on my nose, and like if Jason came up to talk with me, and like I would just die!”, she said tossing her long blonde hair.

    I know people who use like excessively and have found myself doing it on occassion. Ugh! There are so many good words to use, why over-use one?

  • PreciseEdit

    I was like reading this, and I went like, “Sounds like when if someone is like speaking good, like something I would say,” but then I was like, “Oh, no! I’m like 14 years old again!”

    Perhaps I should have added this topic to the article “Does Your Writing Make You Seem Uneducated.”

    To me, this issue is not simply one of the language evolving. It is about the language breaking down and people becoming less coherent. How people write does affect how they are perceived and how well they can communicate. When people use words and phrases that don’t mean what they intend, when they do not employ correct grammar, when they cannot punctuate according to common usage, they limit their ability to communicate.

    When a society loses its ability to communicate well, it collapses.

    Sigh.

  • Julian Locke

    We are of like mind, PreciseEdit.

    As for the word “like”, it seems to have become the most widely misused word in the English-speaking world. It’s various misapplications can be heard with ever-increasing frequency in films, television broadcasts, parliaments, boardrooms, classrooms and lecture theatres alike – in short, in all the places from which it should be expunged.

    I have even contemplated writing an article on the theme. Leaving aside the lamentable use of “like” as a word to fill in pauses during speech, the most interesting cases, for me, involve its misuse in place of “as if”, “as though”, “as” or “such as”. I have dubbed these various forms of misapplication the songwriter’s “like” (on the model of the greengrocer’s apostrophe), as one or other of them appears in about half of all English-language songs released since the 1960s. Well, a third is perhaps nearer the mark, but that’s still not an insignificant proportion. Try it out – listen out for the word “like” in three randomly chosen songs written in the last forty years or so, and I’ll bet you hear at least one incidence of its misuse. (Obviously the experiment will be of little value if you include any rap or hip-hop songs, as they are almost guaranteed to include one of the above-mentioned misapplications, in addition to numerous other grammatical abominations.)

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