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I have many times read the first sentence. But it seems that the "like" is comparing "Mellisa's being smart" with John. Though we intend to compare "Mellisa's smartness" with "John's smartness".

Which of the sentences would be technically right?

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Which "like"? The first sentence's or the other one? –  user20934 Jun 26 '12 at 20:50
@rudra: Like of the first sentence. –  Jbean Jun 26 '12 at 20:54
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5 Answers

If you want to be clear, we would say:

"Mellissa is smart, like John."

The second sentence is improper. The "is" at the end is redundant and not considered good usage.

What the statement implies, though, is that Melissa is "smart" in the same way that John is "smart".

However, if what you mean to say is that both John and Mellissa are smart, then you would want to say something like:

"Mellissa is as smart as John", or, "Both Mellissa and John are smart."

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I don't think I accept any of this. On whose authority is it "not considered good usage" to repeat the verb in such constructions? It's purely a matter of style - and most likely the "not good usage" jibe would apply to such use of the words "smart" and "like" anyway. Your implication that presence or absence of the repeated verb somehow differentiates between whether Mellissa and John have the same general level or specific type of smartness is simply fanciful. –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '12 at 0:17
I completely agree with @FumbleFingers. How will you justify that it's "not considered good usage"? –  user20934 Jun 27 '12 at 10:21
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I think "is" is implied in the shorter version of the sentence. I think that a native speaker would be more likely to omit the trailing "is".

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No, you are wrong! Both sentences mean the same. Similar construction:

  • John is smart like his brother is.
  • John is smart like his brother.

Omitting the trailing "is" would not affect its meaning.

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But the word 'Like' should compare similar things in a sentence. In second sentence we are comparing 'John being smart' and 'his brother'. Isn't it? –  Jbean Jun 26 '12 at 21:03
@Jbean To understand it better, replace "like" with "as". Hope it helps. –  user20934 Jun 26 '12 at 21:13
@Jbean: The point is it doesn't make any difference to the meaning whether you understand "like" to reference John or the fact that he is smart. But it does make a difference to grammar if you replace "his brother" with a pronoun - compare "John is smart like I am" and "John is smart like me". –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '12 at 0:09
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I wish I knew how to comment on other answers but I don't. I disagree strongly with the criticism directed towards @Tadish Durbin. He is correct in saying that the "is" is reduntant and wrong. "Like" is a preposition, not to be confused with the conjunction "as". Therefore it does not introduce a new clause, leaving one clause with two main verbs. In answer to the question, the second sentence is wrong. i don't get why people contradict so aggressively other posters, especially here, where he was correct

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‘There never was a general principle as to why “like” could not be used conjunctively, and it is now strongly supported by corpus data from around the English-speaking world.’ (‘The Cambridge Guide to English Usage’) –  Barrie England Jul 12 '12 at 14:05
Commenting is a privilege awarded when you reach 50 reputation. It is made so precisely to reduce the number of comments saying 'I agree.'/'I disagree'. Fumblefingers pointed out that 'not considered good usage', without support, is hardly better than 'I don't like it'. Though four people (or possibly five) agreed with him, another 5 thought the answer helpful; hardly aggressive. (And if you want your contributions taken seriously, you should probably proofread them before submitting.) –  TimLymington Jul 12 '12 at 14:12
Can anyone seriously say that the second sentence does not sound awful? It is quite rare (and no, I do not have a book which I can qote in order to prove this) that "like" as a conjunction does not sound weak –  JamesHH Jul 12 '12 at 14:46
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As with many things on this site, it depends on exactly what you mean. John is smart, as his brother is does not mean the same as John is (as) smart as his brother. You can replace as with like in the first example; what you can't do is omit the comma. Substituting like in the second is weak and ambiguous, but I wouldn't say it's wrong.

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