Lexical unit

The theory оf usage "like": component, different meanings, possibility to act as different part of speech, constructions, semantic principles of connectivity, component in compound words. The peculiarities of usage "like". The summarizing of the results.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 21.12.2011
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Object: This term paper was made to research the functioning and categorical value of the lexical unit «like» in modern English.

Subject: Lexical unit «like» in different types of context.

The purpose has determined the following tasks:

- analysis of the nature of the word like;

- to describe the combinability of the word like, to find out the factors which influence on the formal and semantic variation of the word like in simple sentences, to determine semantic-syntactic potency of the word like and its functioning;

- to determine the main structural types of compound sentences with the part which are imposed by the word like;

- to determine the morphological syncretism of «like» - component.

The scientific novelty of the term paper in conditioned in the following - all possible morphological-syntactic models with the word like are granted at the first time; the semantic background of the word like is revealed in the result of which the meaning of refinement is set; the functioning purpose of the word like is determined.

The theoretical value of the term paper lies in the fact that the investigation can serve to the purpose of inputting the information in certain chapters of grammar (grammatical homonymy, transposition of parts of speech). The reason for inputting the supplementary to the dictionary article is the refining meaning which was brought out of in the result of the investigation.

The practical value. The information received in the term paper can be used for the seminars and practical courses in Grammar.

The structure of the work is done in accordance with the general conceptual framework adopted. The term paper consists of introduction, two chapters, conclusions, bibliography and the list of literary sources.

Chapter I of the term paper represents the theory оf usage «like» - component, different meanings, possibility to act as different part of speech, usage of «like» - constructions, semantic principles of connectivity of «like» - component in compound words.

Chapter II presents the peculiarities of usage «like» - component.

Conclusions contain the summarizing of the results of the research.

The data sources which are used in the term paper are the following: R. Robbins «A time to remember», Jane Austin «Pride and Prejudice».

like speech peculiarity meaning

1. The theory of the component «like»

A lot of linguists have studied peculiarities of usage the word like. According to their investigation this word has different meaning. In general like is used for:

- Comparisons and to confer certain properties onto an object;

- Expressing affinity, affection or another similar concept.

Like can act as different parts of speech:

Like as preposition.

According to Longman dictionary of contemporary English, like is:

1) SIMILAR for something else, or happening in the same way:

Her hair is dark brown like mine [11; 936].

A club should be like a big family [11; 936].

2) what is sb/sth like? Spoken when asking someone to describe or give their opinion of a person or thing:

What's their house like inside? [11; 936].

What are Dan's parents like? [11; 936].

3) Example:

Things like glass, paper, and plastic can all be recycled [11; 936].

4) Typical of a particular person: be like sb to do sth:

It's not like Steven to be late [11; 936].

5) like this/that/so - spoken used when you are showing someone how to do something:

You have to fold the corners back, like so [11; 936].

6) just like that informal if you do something just like that, you do it without thinking about it or planning it carefully:

You can't give up your job just like that! [11; 936]

7) something like not much more or less than a particular amount:

The machinery alone will cost something like thirty thousand pounds [11; 936].

8) nothing like BrE not at all:

Twenty years ago travel was nothing like as easy as it is now [11; 936].

This will be nothing like enough money [11; 936].

9) there's nothing like - used to say that a particular thing is very enjoyable:

There's nothing like a nice cup of tea [11; 936].

10) more like - used when giving an amount or number that you think is closer to being right than one that has been mentioned:

The builder's say they'll be finished in three months, but I think it'll be more like six [11; 936].

11) that's more like it - spoken used to say that sth is better, more correct, or more enjoyable than something else:

That gives us a total of 52 - that's more like it [11; 936].

12) more like it - BrE spoken used when you want to change something that has been said, to make it more true:

«Poor David», she said.» Poor Harriet, more like it!» [11; 936].

13) what are you like! BrE spoken informal used in a joking, friendly way, when you are surprised by what someone has just said or done:

«I think she's a lovely lady.» «What are you like!» [11; 936]

Like as verb.

1) Think sth is nice to enjoy sth or think that it is nice or good:

I like your jacket [11; 936].

How do you like living in London? [11; 936]

2) Like a person to think that someone is nice or enjoy being with them:

You'll like my brother [11; 936].

3) Approve of sth to approve of something and think that it is good or right:

I don't like the way he shouts at the children [11; 936].

4) Do sth regularly to try to do sth regularly or make sth happen regularly: like to do sth:

I like to get up early and get a bit of work done before breakfast [11; 936].

Like sb to do sth:

We like our students to take part in college sports activities [11; 936].

Like as a noun.

1) sb's likes and dislikes - the things that someone likes and does not like:

We all have our own likes and dislikes when it comes to food [11; 936].

2) and the like/and such like and similar things:

Soldiers, policemen, and the like were all called in to help with the emergency [11; 936].

3) the likes of sb/sm - spoken

a) used to talk about someone you do not like or do not approve of:

I don't want you spending time with the likes of him [11; 936].

b) used to talk about people of a particular type:

Information is collected through the likes of the FBI, CIA, and Scotland Yard [11; 936].

4) the like of sb/sth also sth's like - formal something similar to someone or a particular person or thing, or of equal importance or value:

This will be a show the like of which has never been seen before [11; 936].

Like as adverb.

1) used in speech to fill a pause while you are thinking what to say next:

The water was, like, really cold [11; 936].

I was just, like, standing there [11; 936].

2) I'm/he's/she's like…

a) used to tell the exact words someone used:

I asked Dave if he wanted to go, and he's like, no way! [11; 936]

b) used to describe an event, feeling, or person, when it is difficult to describe or when you use a noise instead of words:

She was like, huh? (= she did not understand) [11; 936].

3) as like as not/like enough BrE probably:

The ambulance will be too late, as like as not [11; 936].

Like as conjunction.

1) in the same way as. Some people consider this use to be incorrect:

No one else can score goals like he can! [11; 936]

Don't talk to me like you talk to a child [11; 936].

2) like I say/said - spoken used when you are repeating sth that you have already said:

Like I said, I don't mind helping out on the day [11; 936].

3) informal as if. Some people think that this use is not correct English:

He looked at me like I was mad [11; 936].

Like as adjective (only before noun) formal

1) similar in some way:

The second dispute was sorted out in a like manner [11; 936].

They get on well together because they are of the like mind [11; 936].

2) be like to do sth. - old use to be likely to do sth

like used after a noun to say that something is similar to or typical of the noun:

A jelly-like substance, childlike simplicity, ladylike behaviour [11; 936].


1) the degree to which something can reasonably be expected to happen; probability:

Using a seatbelt will reduce the likelihood of serious injury in a car accident [11; 936].

2) in all likelihood almost certainly:

If I refused, it would in all likelihood mean I'd lose my job [11; 936].

Morphological syncretism of «like» component

«Like» constructions.

According to Cambridge English Grammar, like is used when we compare one thing or person with another. The word like means similar to something, the same.

The dog is very intelligent. It is like a human [2; 55].

It is raining again. I hate weather like this [2; 55].

Like is a preposition

That's why it is followed by noun, pronoun, or - ing.

We can also say like (someone / something) - ing.

It sound like a baby crying [2; 55].

Like, would like with infinitive. In infinitive constructions like is followed by ing form.

I don't like people shouting at me [2; 56].

No matter how we say - I like doing or I like to do:

I like getting up early or

I like to get up early [2; 56].

Usually we use I like doing when like means «enjoy».

Do you like cooking? (= do you enjoy it?) [2; 56]

I don't like driving. (= I don't enjoy it?) [2; 56].

If like doesn't mean enjoy we use I like to do. I like to do something.

We mean that to do something will be right [16; 754].

I like to wash my hair twice a week. (But it doesn't mean that I like to do it but it is necessary to do it) [2; 57].

Tom likes to do washing-up immediately after the meal [2; 57].

As it is said in Murphy English Grammar, the construction would like is followed by infinitive:

I would like to be rich [7; 634].

Would you like to come to the party? [7; 634]

There is the difference between I like and I would like.

I would like is polite way to say I want.

I like playing tennis. (= I enjoy it in general) [7; 634]

I would like to play tennis today. (= I want to play) [7; 634]

It is possible to say I would like to have done something (= It's a pity that I have not done it or I couldn't do something)

It's a pity we didn't visit Tom. I would like to have seen him again [7; 634].

We'd like to have gone on holiday but we didn't have enough money [7; 634].

Distinctive formal signs.

According to Soyko the word «like» is determined with the wide range of functioning comparative constructions in different styles of modern English.

Distinctive formal signs are:

1) possibility to combine the word like with more, much which testifies the presence of categorial degree of congruence in the word like.

I'm not a roomer. More like a patient (W. Smith) [6; 5].

He seemed more like the debris of human being then like a man (I. Murdock) [6; 5].

It was styled simply, much like the British minis, which were so successfully copied by the Japanese Honda [6; 5].

2) ability to form word form unlike:

Unlike his wife, Mr. Knight was indirect [6; 5].

At first she seemed as unlike Babs as she, could be [6; 5].

…she, unlike you, is charming [6; 5].

However, before the word like the negative particle not can be used [6; 5].

Oh, Lydig, no, that's not like her [6; 5].

Though, the combination of signs is very limited and can't serve the purposes of argumentation about the question about the condition of the word like. There is the contradiction between its functions. It can have the status of conjunction and preposition as some language experts reckon.

In the works of Mazenin only right combinatory is illustrated. But in the works of Snopkova left combinatory is also mentioned [6; 6].

Types of the right combinatory.

As it is said in investigations by Soyko, right combinatory of the word like is represented in eight structural types. That is like demonstrating extensible positions which are filled by the words of the class of nouns, pronouns, gerund, adverbs, adjectives, numerals, infinitive and prepositions [6; 7]

Table 1

Main structural types of constructions with the word «like»

Amount of cases










like + N

like + Pron

like + Ger

like + Adv

like +Adj

like + Num

like + Inf

like + Prep












Extending of the «like» constructions.

Soyko has research that the concept in the table is the structural base for constructions of different combinations with like. But sometimes it can include structural-semantic constituent D, that is the clause like+N will be derated into like + D + N.

The is one more variant of model like + N where N is used with regressive and progressive position of elements:

like + D + N + D1,

where D and D1 - elements, which extend the construction:

It can flash through the air like a mighty scimiter, cutting through tissues of falsehood, evasion, ignorance [6; 7].

…and then touched his own face exploring, like a blind man feeling a statue [6; 7].

As a rule, pronoun type of construction with like doesn't have extend clause. The only way it can occur in the situations of concretization:

It struck me then that she was unlike someone who had had a bad fright [6; 7].

In the model like + Pron personal pronoun takes the form of objective case which testifies about the presence of seme in the word like.

…and Gillian Burke and hundred others like her would move into a camera rouge… [6; 7].

As a rule in the model like + Ger gerundive complex is used but not single gerund. It is explained by the necessity of semantic completeness.

In the model like + InfP the explanation (P) follows, without which the construction would be structural and semantically unaccomplished.

Like the drive over there where you see the smoke? [6; 8].

Analysis of the material permit to determine that the eight structural types of constructions with the word like differ each from other by semantic dissimilarity, caused by specific character of semantics of the word like. Models like + Ger, like + Adj, like + Inf are typical for comparative constructions, and the word like is as the sign of untruth. It is testified where the word like is transformed by hypothetical conjunction as if/as though:

It was like staring at a drawing on a piece of paper… [6; 8].

It was as if staring at a drawing on a piece of paper [6; 8].

Models like + Pron, like + Adv, like + Num, like + PrepP and also negative «un» in the structure of the word like are devices of comparative relations which are reproduced in the word like. Structural differences in the word like are explained in the following way - linguistic «image» is made up with the help of semantic structures of the words which are represented by graphically-conceptual contest. Parts of speech which doesn't have such information can't take part in the

formation of the «image». Such parts of speech are pronouns, numerals, some classes of adverbs and prepositions [6; 9].

Semantic analysis of the word like provide not only the specific detection of the meaning of the word like but also searching of proximity between the variants of the meaning [6; 9].

It is possible to retrace the grade of lexical-semantic relations between different variants of lexical contest in the word like. The method of substitution allowed to detect semantic parallels between the contrastive word like and conjunction both…and. And the other way their lack between the comparative word like and mentioned conjunctions. It helps to differentiate in the word like two meanings: comparison and contrast [6; 9].

Refining, comparative, qualificatory and commenting-valuating meaning.

According to Soyko, the meaning of refinement doesn't relate in lexically-semantic connection with comparative-contrastive meaning. The experiment of substitution the refining like for lexical definition detected the gap of semantic relation between comparative-contrastive meaning of the word like and refining meaning. It allows us to confirm that the refining like is the homonym to comparative-contrastive like [6; 10].

It allows us to make a conclusion that in comparative-contrastive construction the word like functions as auxiliary part of the sentence because only the whole combination like + X (where X is any semantic element related with like) can be described in the terms of the parts of the sentence.

There are three types of compound sentences according to the character of expressive relations: comparative, qualificatory meaning, commenting - valuating.

Together with semantic differences they have distinctive features of structural and functional order [6; 10].

Comparative meaning

Subordinate part with the clip like doesn't carry explanatory function to any component of the main clause.

The clip like connects two parts of one clause related by bilateral dependence. It helps to determine the status of the clip like as conjunction [6; 11].

Qualificatory meaning

It is the clause of partioned type. The main clause has high level of autosemantics. Subordinate part is characterized by cease in developing of plot of the whole compound sentence. The character of subordinating relations is determined by semantic dependence of predicate which is expressed in wide usage of verb substituent, more often the verb «to do» [6; 12].

Subordinate part functions as explanation and attaches to the whole main clause in tote. Relations between the main and subordinate parts are characterized by interference of two semantic structures. The semantics of the clip like goes with the semantics of the subordinate predicative unity and is the conjunction according to its functions.

Subordinate part which is introduced by the clip like has explanatory meaning. It shows from whom the utterance goes.

As subordinate clauses of commenting-valuating meaning suspect main and subordinate parts, the clip like can't be examined as a particle. Because if to exclude it from the sentence, it will lead to changing the structure of the expression. So it is characterized as conjunction [6; 12].

Types of nominations of compound words.

According to Tolcheeva, in the theory of word building there are two ways of word composition - from word combinations and according to the word building models (Smirnitskiy, Stepanova, Kveselevich, Omelchenko).Compound words with like element are used for their approximate nomination of process, objects, their characteristic, quality and quantity [1; 5].

There are three types of nomination where compound words with like element are used:

1. nominations where the approximations is connected with the characteristics of the object.

2. nominations where the approximations is connected with the object and at the same time with its name (compound type).

3. nomination where the approximations of direction doesn't connect with the object but with the subject [1; 5].

The characteristics of the «like» element.

As Tolcheva has investigated, the characteristics of like element is that:

1) it has the ability to form adjectives not only from strictly English stems but also from borrowed words: telescope-like, lens-like, puncture-like

2) obtain abstract meaning «similar to that, typical for that, peculiar to what the derivative stem expresses: mirrorlike, ladylike, doglike

3) in its development it lost the connection with the lexeme like. In such adjectives as childlike - simple, innocent, sincere (OED), threadlike - fibrous, stringy (OED) - like has lost its primary independent meaning of the adjective like «similar, analogous, the same, equal» [1; 6].

Semantic principles of connectivity like element in compound words: structure and functioning.

In the work of Tolcheeva there is the concept that examinations of semantic structure of compound words with like element and its functioning were made in three stages 1) examining of combining composite words 2) forming of their semantic meaning 3) combining with other words in fiction expression [1; 8].

Morphologic - syntactic and logic principles are put into the base of semantic combining of compound words with like element. Under semantic combining we understand the ability of separate part of speech to join syntacticaly with like element by certain logic.

Semantic classes of nouns which connect with like component have wide variety. As a rule it nouns:

- for denotation animal world

- for denotation of parts of body

- for denotation of mythic creature

- for denotation of different conditions of a person

- for denotation of natural phenomenon

- for denotation of artifacts

While forming compound words with like element not all the stems are the so active in word building process. It is possible to distinguish stems of nouns (animal-like, telescope-like, child-like, paper-like), adjectives in different degrees of comparison (good-looking, best-looking, finest-looking), adverbs (deadly-looking, kindly-looking, lovely-looking) [1; 9].

2. The peculiarities of usage of the unit «like»

2.1 Types of the right combinatory

In the work of Soyko right combinatory of the word like is represented in eight structural types. That is like demonstrating extensible positions which are filled by the words of the class of nouns, pronouns, gerund, adverbs, adjectives, numerals, infinitive and prepositions [6; 9].

According to Table I in the first chapter it is possible to make such examples:

Like + N:

1. He suddenly sat upright, holding her hair-brush like a weapon [17; 67].

Like + Pron:

2. You're like me in that [6; 10].

Like + Ger:

3. They had been at Flashbourne long enough for it to seem like coming home [6; 10].

Like + Adv:

4. He'd hardly left when - well, it was like yesterday - the BBD and D drummer came in [6; 10].

Like + Adj:

5….I can make it like new so you don't have to buy no new ones… [18; 36].

Like + Num:

6. The end of this phase was not sharp, not a climax, like the first [17; 98].

Like + Inf:

7….and listen to what Harry told her to do - like to keep herself out Fluke's place [6; 10].

Like + Prep:

8. Does anyone ever know the outer fringe of another: What are you like in there [17; 234].

2.2 Correlates and exponent of degree

Soyko has researched that appearance of correlates and exponent of degree of congruence promote the reduction of meaning of unreality:

He looks exactly like you, Rita [6; 14].

He was so like the beast that gave him his name [6; 14].

I've never felt less like a mashine [6; 14].

Then again, he wasn't treating me so much like a kid any more [6; 14].

2.3 The meaning of refinement

Soyko has explored that like has also the meaning of refinement. Refinement constructions serve as the purpose of additional information.

As a rule, noun or gerund follows after like:

They emptied it and dragged it back to the wreck, and we loaded it to the full with the most important equipment, like radio set, provisions, and water bottles [3; 41].

The things which should be new and modern, like hospitals and schools and factories, were grubby and old-fashioned [3; 41].

…just doing the things that had to be done every single day of the week, like brushing his teeth, or taking Beverly for a walk [3; 41].

2.4 Comparative, qualificatory and commenting-valuating meaning

According to the work of Soyko there are three types of compound sentences according to the character of expressive relations: comparative, qualificatory meaning, commenting - valuating [6; 11].


Subordinate part with the clip like doesn't carry explanatory function to any component of the main clause. It relates with it in whole:

We set there talking like we had known each other foe years and years [3; 41].


The main clause has high level of autosemantics. Subordinate part is characterized by cease in developing of plot of the whole compound sentence.

…we'll sit on the stair landing like we did at the last ball and get Mammy Jincy to come tell our fortunes again [3; 41].

He brought it around to my mother so she could give her approval like the hostess sometimes does [3; 41].


Subordinate part which is introduced by the clip like has explanatory meaning. It shows from whom the utterance goes. Subordinate parts together with input sentences don't have constant position. They can take initial, middle or finishing position:

Like I said, after Christmas Ben would, every once in a while, talk about the time they'd be married and all the different things we'd do together [3; 42].

The place we were setting in was dark, like I said, and there was the roots from that old stump sticking up like arms [3; 42].

…Why didn't you go away like you said you would? [3; 42].

2.5 Nominations of compound words

As Tolcheeva has investigated, there are three types of nomination where compound words with like element are used:

1. nominations where the approximateness is connected with the characteristics of the object.

She has been some kind of fine-looking, all right, with that dynamite body and that gorgeous fall of red wary hair, but she was weak…weak somehow [6; 26].

2. nominations where the approximateness is connected with the object and at the same time with its name (compound type).

George cried, and a mixture of doglike sounds came out of his fanged mouth [6; 26].

3. nominations where the approximateness of direction doesn't connect with object but with subject.

He felt a knot tighten in his stomach as he saw two wraith-like figures emerge from the smoke [6; 26].

2.6 Classes of nouns which connect with «like» component

In the work of Tolcheeva it is written that semantic classes of nouns which connect with like component have wide variety. As a rule it is nouns:

· for denotation animal world: There was a federal, animal-like vitality about him. The hand he offered was large and warm, which reinforced her impression of a big man grown even bigger and more bear-like [1; 6].

· for denotation of parts of body: As you can see here, the my electric arm is made of plastics and covered with a handlike glove [1; 6].

· for denotation of mythic creature: A Belch Huggins chuckle was a low, troll-like sound (S. King). The yellow storm light lay on their skins, making their faces seem ghost-like, distant, shadowy [1; 6].

· for denotation of different conditions of a person: Things stood out in a kind of dreamlike steely relief. She sat in a chair, in a trance-like state, her mind going over and over the moment at the telephone [1; 6].

· for denotation of natural phenomenon: What stopped him was a realization, almost too lightninglike to be concious [1; 6].

· for denotation of artifacts: It extended quite quickly, in a telescope-like motion, smaller extensions being born out of larger ones, and fast enough so that it stayed ahead of him as he ran [1; 6].


In a simple sentence there are two lexical-semantic variants in the word like - comparative and contrast. The word like in the sense of refinement doesn't have synonymous parallels with comparative-contrastive like.

In the constructions the word like isn't independent part of the sentence. All structures like + X function as secondary part of the sentence: attributive or adverbial contest, and also is a nominal part of the predicate.

Comparative-contrastive like is characterized by intersection of four parts of speech: preposition, adjective, adverb and conjunction.

With prepositions the word like draws the possibility of combining with nouns, adjectives, pronouns, gerunds, numerals. There is also presence of case valence and duplex syntactic relations which are mostly in binomial word combinations which are formed according to the model «pivotal word + like + dependent word».

The word like together with the input construction like prepositional phrase is characterized by the mobility of positions in the sentence. These prepositional phrases and constructions with the word like can have predicative, attributive and adverbial characteristics.

However, the possibility of the word like to form the word form unlike and the combination much (more, less) + like doesn't allow to attribute it to preposition.

With adjectives the word like draw the presence of prefix in the structure of the word and also the possibility to form the degree of comparison.

However, the word like is characterized by the right distribution which is not typical for adjectives.

In combinations Adj + N the article is used before the adjective, but in the combination like + N the article is used before the noun but not before like.

With adverbs the word like has possibility to follow after participle in the participle constructions, presence of prefix un in the structure of the word, possibility to form degree of comparison with the help of words much, more, less.

However, there is a compatibility for the word like which adverbs don't have. As it is known, adverbs doesn't combine with nouns, but the construction like + N is very productive. Unlike adverbs which have unilateral connection, the word like has bilateral connection. Adverbs and adjectives are parts of sentences. The word like isn't part of sentence.

With conjunctions the word like draw the possibility of comparative phrase which refers to verbal predicate to be expanded into the subordinate clause.

It is impossible to attribute the comparative-contrastive like to any morphologic class because it has the character of morphologic syncretism.

The word like with the meaning of refinement doesn't have synonymic parallels with comparative-contrastive and functions as the word which introduces the enumeration. Here like has conjunctional function.

Examination of grammatical and semantical structure of composite sentences with the parts which are input with the clip like allows to affirm that they are grammatical and function in modern English. They are represented by three types of compound sentences - comparative-contrastive, commenting - valuating and qualificatory meaning. Casual and modal characteristics plays an important role in the realization of syntactic relations. The clip like functions as conjunction.


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