I am currently working on a paper about the "Adj like (article) Noun" construction. Some would consider that which comes after the "like"-part to be a prepositional phrase if "like" is understood as a preposition, while others consider it an adjective; but this latter view is in my opinion counterintuitive. Anyway; are there any papers on this topic that I could use as sources? It would be most helpful if there were papers with a construction grammar viewpoint on this, but others would be fine as well. I see that some call this "comparative construction" but only in the context of other constructions, and mostly just as a footnote, and there are almost no papers dealing primarily with this exact construction.

I would appreciate your help.

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    Can you give us a couple of examples of such phrases, please? Feb 11, 2021 at 15:20
  • Of course; there are many instances, many of them even idiomatized; let's say "high like a mountain", "dry like a desert", "fried like a chicken" etc. Feb 11, 2021 at 16:59
  • Can't help you myself, I'm afraid, but perhaps this chapter here may present some useful arguments on both sides regarding the categorial status of like. Feb 11, 2021 at 21:29
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    You might find these being referred to as equative constructions. Feb 11, 2021 at 21:33
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    It would be good to edit those examples into your post! :) Feb 13, 2021 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


From what I see you confuse several things here. On the one hand you cannot take like and just change the word class. And then argue it has a different meaning. For example when you use like as a adjective. It needs a noun after it. Otherwise it won't be able to act as an adjective. And when I say after it I mean directly after it. A determiner in between will automatically change like into a preposition. In this position the word like cannot have any other role than being a adjective. A very common example for this would be "like mind" in a sentence like: We are of like mind. Or you say: We are of like height. This is the only possible way for like being used in the sense of an adjective. Your examples all feature like as a different word class.

But in all your examples you present like as a preposition which is followed by an determiner and a noun.

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    Is this answer based on any academic papers? Statements like "A determiner in between will automatically change like into a preposition" should have a source to be helpful. Feb 12, 2021 at 1:52
  • “like_6 Adjective - Definition, Pictures, Pronunciation and Usage Notes: Oxford Advanced American Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com,” like_6 adjective - Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford Advanced American Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com, accessed February 12, 2021, oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/…. And you can check any other dictionary entries like Cambridge etc. Or simply go and read the Longman Grammar.
    – Jannik
    Feb 12, 2021 at 2:11
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    Learners dictionaries are not suitable as resources for linguists or linguistics students. For a start dictionaries are utterly useless on parts of speech, which is not surprising because they are dictionaries and not grammars. Secondly your assumptions there are very simplistic. For example in so dangerous a situation, the word dangerous is an adjective and not a preposition despite having an article between it and the following noun. Furthermore there are many other tests that indicate adjective- or preposition-hood. Like passes some adjective ones and fails some preposition ones. Feb 13, 2021 at 23:05
  • Although I do agree that it is, synchronically, a preposition! Feb 13, 2021 at 23:08
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore.I was not talking about the syntactical rule for adjectives in general.I was solely referring to the use of like as an adjective. Like is according to corpus data (e.g. COCA and MICUSP) always used like this. If like is used as an adjective it always follows the exact same pattern that is described in the learners and also advanced dictionaries. I never said in one sentence that this is a rule set for adjectives in general.
    – Jannik
    Feb 15, 2021 at 18:13

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