This page explains the difficulty of the word like for English language learners.

Like is one of the most common words in the English language, and not one that would seem to be very difficult. If asked to define the word like, most people would probably give its meaning as a verb in the sense of to be fond of something or to enjoy it; e.g. I like Germany but I don't like German food.

In fact, in my dictionary (Collins Cobuild) like has 35 different uses, and the sense mentioned above does not appear until entry 24!

Have no fear, I don't intend to list all these different meanings of like! My point here - and in this whole series of articles - is simply that English is not such an easy language as some people claim.


Just one question this time. What is the meaning of the following question?

  • What is she like?

The construction What is ........ like? is one of the most common uses of the word like in spoken English. It asks for an opinion, and in this case it means What kind of person is she?

Don't get it mixed up with the similar question What does she like? (i.e. What kind of things does she enjoy?)

Here are some more questions which use like in the same way:

  • What was the weather like?
  • What was the food like?
  • What's this book like?
  • What's Germany like?
  • What do you think the new teacher will be like?