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    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #1

    regarding commas and the word "like"

    I have a question about this specific sentence:
    She is like a mother, a sweetheart, and an ally in battle.

    I was wondering which way was the correct way to read this sentence. Is this a list of three things she is like: She is LIKE a mother, she is LIKE a sweetheart, and she is LIKE an ally in battle.

    ...or would one read this sentence as: She is LIKE a mother, she IS a sweetheart, and she IS an ally in battle?

    Does the word "like" distribute throughout to each of the words after the commas?


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #2

    Re: regarding commas and the word "like"

    It is the former - "like" distributes to each element. It would be better though to write it as "She is like a mother, sweetheart, and ally in battle."

  1. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    #3

    Re: regarding commas and the word "like"

    Actually, I think the variation with the indefinite articles has a much more pleasing rhythm to it. It would be very appropriate in literary English, which is where I suspect it came from.


    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #4

    Re: regarding commas and the word "like"

    Thanks for replying, Coffa and rewboss.

    She is like a mother, a sweetheart, and an ally in battle.
    She is like a mother, sweetheart, and ally in battle.

    So, either one would be correct then?
    I guess my main concern was whether "like" would distribute to each element when reading the sentence, and I think Coffa already answered that for me. Thanks a bunch!

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
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    #5

    Re: regarding commas and the word "like"

    Omitting the article/determiner sounds odd (to me) - but that's just me.

    Additionally, 'sweatheart', if spoken sounds like an appositive. Here's a fellow talkin' about his senior colleague to his wife:

    She is like a mother, Sweetheart, and ally in battle.


    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #6

    Re: regarding commas and the word "like"

    ^What's an 'appositive', Casiopea? Do you mean it sounds like the fellow is telling his wife that his senior colleague is his lover?

    Would it sound better if I leave the article/determiner on then?


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #7

    Re: regarding commas and the word "like"

    It's personal preference, I think. I can't really agree with Casiopea on this - I think she means a vocative, not an appositive (ie addressing your 'Sweetheart'), and the tonal inflection would make it very clear if a vocative was intended. An appositive meaning would be indicated by a sentence like "She was like a mother, nurturer to my children, and ally in battle." That is, the appositive clause modifies 'mother'.

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
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    #8

    Re: regarding commas and the word "like"

    Right. Vocative, not appositive. Thanks Coffa.

    Angelic, leaving the article out sounds rather ungrammatical to me. (I speak a North American dialect of English.)

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