Student or Learner
Can you tell me which one below is correct and why?
It seemed as if the impossible had occurred.
It seemed like the impossible had occurred.
Thank a lot!
According to them...
He acts like the boss.
He acts like he is the boss.
He acts as if he is the boss.
So according to this line of thinking, "as if" should be used in your sentence.
But I don't know how prevalent this thinking is among grammarians.
I would like to hear other opinions.
It seemed as if the impossible had occurred. - correct
It seemed like the impossible had occurred. - correct
It's okay to use "like" as a conjunction, though in formal usage it's better to avoid this. Every detail helps set a tone for how you want to come off sounding in a particular settting while you are speaking. Native speakers switch back and forth between such manners of expression automatically, giving it little or no thought at all. However, there are those native speakers who are stuck in one mode: formal or informal. And they don't know how to "switch". So those that are stuck in the formal mode insist that "formal is correct", and those stuck in the "informal mode" don't give it any consideration at all because they don't know how to. This is not to be judgemental, however. Though it could be in some cases.
Your example sentence brings to mind another consideration - hypothetical language - conditional sentences - expressing that which is contrary to fact or accepted notions of what is true.
It is as though the impossible had occured. - (but the impossible didn't occur) Notice how the first clause is present.
Of course, the impossible can't occur, and that is why we use the past perfect - to show that the impossible occurring is in fact a distant possibility. With this in mind, however, I should point out that some people will say this: It's as though the impossible has occurred. I would say this is also correct. However, it only serves to confuse learners. Just the same, that's how it goes. To avoid confusing ELLs - English language learners - I would say use this form to express something that is contrary to fact, imaginary, or "unreal": It is as though the impossible had occured.
*It is like the impossible had occured. - If you use present tense in the first clause and then follow it with a clause that indicates something is contrary to fact or what is accepted as true (second form 'simple past' for hypothetical expressions in the present), then I don't recommend using "like" as a conjunction - at all. It doesn't work.
However, if you keep both clauses in the present, then "like" as a conjunction is okay. However, some people will insist on calling it colloquial. To me, it simply sounds less formal than "as", "as if" or "as though". It's not any less correct, however.
It is like the impossible has occurred.
Last edited by PROESL; 31-Aug-2009 at 01:20. Reason: added information to complete the explanation