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Hi,

“She looked at me like she had expected me to do something.”

“She looked at me as if she had expected me to do something.”

Am I right in assuming that the second sentence is more correct and should be used in writing, but the usage of ‘like’ before a conjunction is actually making headway in the English grammar?

Are they pretty much interchangeable these days?

Thank you.

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I don't follow you when you say "but the usage of ‘like’ before a conjunction is actually making headway in the English grammar". Is "before" a typo, and you actually mean "instead of"?

The construction with "like" is acceptable, perhaps more so in AmE than in BrE, though it is restricted to informal style in both. However, the prescriptivists would grumble about this use of the preposition "like". They claim that prepositional "like" requires a noun phrase complement and cannot take a finite clause.

Note that modern grammar sensibly analyses "like" as a preposition (or an adjective), not a conjunction.

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The use of "like" as a conjunction is old. This quote is from Random House Unabridged Dictionary:

—Usage. LIKE as a conjunction meaning “as, in the same way as” (Many shoppers study the food ads like brokers study market reports) or “as if ” (It looks like it will rain) has been used for nearly 500 years and by many distinguished literary and intellectual figures. Since the mid-19th century there have been objections, often vehement, to these uses. Nevertheless, such uses are almost universal today in all but the most formal speech and writing. In extremely careful speech and in much formal writing, as, as if, and as though are more commonly used than LIKE: The commanding general accepted full responsibility for the incident, as any professional soldier would. Many of the Greenwich Village bohemians lived as if (or as though) there were no tomorrow.

CB