By Jacqueline Schaalje
In one of my jobs when I was much younger I had a boss who never made his own coffee. I expect you know this kind of bosses. One of the women in the office (not me!) made his coffee and brought it to his room. His door was open en I was sitting next to his room, so I could always hear what was going on there. The woman who brought the coffee went away, and the manager would take his first sip. Often, he’d start screaming! What was he so upset about? “Sophie,” he’d shout, “Have you put salt in my coffee!?”
Sophie would come running, and they’d start arguing.
“Of course I haven’t put salt in your coffee. Taste it again.”
“It tastes like salt.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Here, you try it.”
Sophie tries the coffee. “It tastes perfectly fine.”
The boss tries the coffee again. “I still think it tastes as if you’ve put salt in it instead of sugar.”
Can you imagine that an employee who had worked in that office for at least 15 years would make a mistake with his coffee like that? I don’t think so. But anyway, this scene would repeat itself once every week.
Why am I telling you this?
Because now we’ll learn something important about grammar. When do you need to use “like” and when “as if?” Here is the explanation.
You can say:
This coffee tastes like sh…
Well, please don’t say that, that’s terribly vulgar.
Much more cultured is to say, this coffee tastes like dishwater.
Or: This coffee tastes like dead squirrels.
This coffee tastes like the bread of angels.
Or whatever you’d like to say.
Like expresses that the coffee’s taste is similar to the taste of something else.
However, you can also use: verb + adjective, and then you don’t need to use like.
This coffee tastes bad.
This coffee tastes good.
This coffee tastes delicious, but I’d like a little bit of sugar in it.
This coffee tastes too sweet.
Or the last possibility is to use a phrase or clause (a sentence) after the verb, and then you need to use “as if.”
Look at these examples:
This coffee tastes as if you’ve put salt in it.
This coffee tastes as if an elephant spit in it.
This coffee tastes as if there is some alcohol in it.
This coffee tastes as if it’s ten years old.
So far you’ve been reading examples with taste, but you can make the same kind of sentences with feel, look, sound and smell. In short, with verbs of the senses (= the things you do with your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and fingers.)
So to recap, you can employ (= use) three different kinds of sentences:
1 Use verb + like + noun
2 Use verb + adjective
3 Use verb + as if* + (part of) a sentence
*You can also use as though.
Here are some more examples of each one:
1 verb + like + noun:
She looks like her mother.
It sounds like a party going on.
2 verb + adjective:
This tree looks dead.
Those flowers smell lovely.
3 verb + as if + (part of) a sentence:
This temperature feels as though we’re in Alaska.
The kitchen smells as if something’s burnt.
Connect the beginnings of the sentences with the last part. Write only the letter (A, B, etc.)
1 Your scarf looks …
A So soft
You type: A
1 Your room looks …
2 This paint smells …
3 Your perfume smells …
4 This pair of shoes feels …
5 Your apple pie tastes …
6 Our math assignment looks …
7 You look …
8 Her new hairstyle looks …
9 The way the neighbours are shouting sounds …
10 That tall girl looks …
A like a piece of cake.
B as if she had money only for the left side of her head.
D awful. Are you sick?
E like jasmine.
F as if they’re having a row.
G as though a chef baked it.
H really comfortable.
I as if a herd of elephants ran through it.
J like a model.
Done all the free quizzes? Order more here.