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My English teacher ripped our heads off if we tried to explain something that we couldn't really describe by adding "something like that".

Sample: "This is a board game or something like that".

What are the better alternatives? "Something similar"?

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Your teacher could answer this better than EL&U –  tenfour Mar 26 '11 at 0:06
    
My last English lesson was 9 years ago so I can't ask anymore :) –  WarrenFaith Mar 26 '11 at 1:09
    
As the other have suggested, there is nothing idiomatically wrong with "something like that", though "something similar" might be more common in a sentence like yours. –  Cerberus Mar 26 '11 at 2:03
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

"Something similar" is okay, and perhaps slightly better, but I don't think the phrasing was what made your teacher mad. Using "or something similar" does not explain something you couldn't really translate; it just is noise, and does not add anything. Leave it off.

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This is pretty much it. I think your teacher is trying to get you to put more thought into your explanations. –  Yozomiri Mar 26 '11 at 0:00
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@WarrenFaith: You're not the only one :) Many of my teachers hated that phrase, as well. Even my physics teacher would not have his students reply any question whatsoever using that phrase. For instance, one could hear the following exchange: "Are you in [...]'s class?" "Something like that, sir." Absolument ridicule. Yes, avoid it like the plague! –  Jimi Oke Mar 26 '11 at 0:06
    
hm... that makes completely sense... thank you! –  WarrenFaith Mar 26 '11 at 1:11
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