I have a few questions on this phrase "Like father, like son".

  1. Is it an idiom or a proverb? Or both?

  2. Can it be analysed grammatically?

  3. If the answer is "Yes", can you analyse it grammatically for me?

  • Does your confusion come from the similarity of its structure with the expression "love/like me, love/like my dog"? – Papa Poule Feb 27 '16 at 22:34
  • 1
    Possibly derives from the Latin qualis pater talis filius (as is the father, so is the son), part of the Athanasian Creed – Neil W Feb 28 '16 at 5:01
  • What do you mean with "question marks" in the headline? – rogermue Feb 28 '16 at 5:08
  • @rogermue I re-edited the post. – user140086 Feb 28 '16 at 6:31

"Like father, like son" conveys a general experience, so it is a proverb. It is also an idiom because the sentence is expressed with a special stylistic device, and not in the normal way.

The normal expression would be: The son is often like the father. Like father, like son is an artistic, poetic formulation. And such things are outside the field of grammar.

Neil W hinted at a Latin model in his comment. It may very well be that Like father, like son imitated Latin Qualis pater talis filius (In what way the father, in that way (is)the son).

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I would call it a proverb

a brief popular saying (such as “Too many cooks spoil the broth”) that gives advice about how people should live or that expresses a belief that is generally thought to be true

As to the grammar, I get a sense that the two occurrences of "like" are very slightly different in function/meaning. "What the father is like, the son is like that as well." But it's hard to express.

Of course, as is the case with many proverbs, this one is far from universally true.

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It's an idiom, not a proverb. It simply means that men (or boys) often take after their fathers.

For example, imagine a young many named Tony who shows up late for work for the third day in a row. An older employee who remembers Tony's father coming in late for work might say, "Like father, like son."

I don't know how to analyze it grammatically. Just insert a comma after "father."

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I'll agree with Hot on proverb because I think you can derive the meaning of the expression based on the words themselves; compared to an idiom which is (usually) nonsensical to the unaware ear.

As to the punctuation, it is a matter of style. The Chicago Manual of Style has this to say [6.42]: Commas with "the more," "the less," and so on. A comma is customarily used between clauses of the more ... the more type. Shorter phrases of that type, however, rarely merit commas. {the more the merrier}

Thus, like father like son. I will say I disagree with my style guide, from time to time.

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