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When I was learning English (non-native speaker here), I was taught that there is concept called "parallelism" in English grammar, which in my own understanding means that if I want to combine two or more ideas into a sentence, the ideas need to have similar forms and structures.

Therefore, the following sentences conform to the parallelism:

He loves baseball like his father does.
He can play baseball like his father can.
He plays baseball as good as his father does.

However, as I grow up, I keep encountering spoken and written sentences that omit the final verbs:

He loves baseball like his father.
He can play baseball like his father.
He plays baseball as good as his father.

Now, the latter forms sound as naturally fine to me, to the point that the first of the following sentences sounds better to me than the second one:

He is a good baseball player like his father.
He is a good baseball player like his father is/was.

Is it alright to omit the final verbs from the "X like Y" and "X as [adjective] as Y" sentences?

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"plays as well as", not "as good as" –  Ben Voigt Jun 18 '11 at 16:36
When in doubt, spell it out. Why try to save words? "He loves baseball, just as much as his father loves baseball." See how beautiful and clear it is? Go for it! Use those words up! Unless you are writing those bizarre legal clauses used at the end of 30 second radio commercials for payday cheque cashing, spell it out ! –  Joe Blow Jun 18 '11 at 21:02
@Joe Brevity is the soul of wit? :) –  rest_day Jun 18 '11 at 21:05
@rest so long as the soul is not brief due to a witty creator... –  Joe Blow Jun 18 '11 at 21:10

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's fine to omit the final verbs in cases like this, but it is a good idea to be careful to make sure the resulting sentence is not ambiguous. For example:

He loves baseball like his father.

could be interpreted either as "He loves baseball like his father does." or "He loves baseball like he loves his father." In such cases, it is better to leave the verbs in to ensure there is no misinterpretation. In this case, it is fairly obvious which meaning was intended, so it is fine as it is. However, there are cases where the resulting sentence becomes truly ambiguous; you should try to avoid such cases (although even native speakers don't always succeed in doing this).

As Neil Coffey points out in the comments, the probability of ambiguity is actually very low.

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But... can you honestly imagine a situation in the universe where somebody says "He loves baseball like his father" and the two interpretations you mention have anything like a 50-50 chance of being the intended one...? I would replace "fairly obvious" with "usually very blindingly obvious". –  Neil Coffey Jun 18 '11 at 16:32
@Neil: I agree that you should be able to determine the meaning from context. I disagree that the meaning of the standalone sentence is clear, although for the second meaning, one would more often say "He loves baseball like a father." –  Ben Voigt Jun 18 '11 at 16:37
@Neil "He loves his neighbour like his father"? –  rest_day Jun 18 '11 at 16:44
I tend to see things the other way round: if there was really any actual ambiguity in any significant proportion of instances, the language would probably not have evolved in this way. Even in the "he loves his neighbour like his father": does a context readily spring to mind where this sentence would be uttered and there was any real ambiguity in that context? It's really feels like one of those cases where people are looking for a problem that practically never occurs. –  Neil Coffey Jun 18 '11 at 16:52
@Neil: "He loves to play tricks on people like his father."? –  Peter Shor Jun 18 '11 at 16:53

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