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Inelegant speech, like, grates on nerves

By Gene Owens Published: February 2, 2008
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"Help,” cried Evelyn Parker of Norman as she rolled into Curly's Soonerco on her last drop of fuel. "A television commercial, which appears frequently, grates on my nerves big time. Epatha Merkerson says, ‘If you have high blood pressure like me, you should try ... .”

"Like me” didn't sound correct to Evelyn, and she wasn't quite sure why. Maybe, she said, it would sound better to say "if you have high blood pressure like I do.”

Maybe it sounds better, Evelyn, but it's still not quite right.

"Like,” in elevated English, is a preposition, not a conjunction. Therefore, it's inelegant to use it to connect a clause such as "I do” to the rest of the sentence.

As a preposition, "like” is used to show similarity. Merkerson's sentence actually means, "If you have high blood pressure similar to me ... .” As Floyd would say, that doesn't make a lick of sense. You can't compare the "Law and Order” star with high blood pressure.

So, the sentence needs to be recast. Merkerson could replace "like” with the conjunction "as”: "If you have high blood pressure, as I do, you should try .

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