A popular idiom says, “All minds think alike.” This statement demonstrates the proper usage of the word ‘alike.’ ‘Alike’ is not used in a sentence as ‘similar’. It is because ‘alike’ is used after a verb and not before a noun (as an adjective). ‘Alike’ is a verb modifier and also an adverb. Take a look at the following example:
Incorrect: The two sisters had alike personalities.
Correct: The two sisters were alike in terms of their personalities.
Moreover, ‘alike’ is a predicative adjective. It can only appear after a linking verb or after nouns. Linking verbs are verbs that connect a subjects to their predicates without expressing action. ‘Alike can also be used after a pair of nouns or a list of nouns. For instance:
- These pants are alike (linking verb).
- He and his brother look alike (linking verb).
- The puppies seem alike to me (linking verb).
- Men and women alike will flock to your stores (a pair of nouns).
- The law should apply to women, children, and adults alike (after a list of nouns).
‘Same,’ on the other hand, means that two or more ideas or people are identical. In essence, stating that something is the same means that they are one thing. ‘The same’ is used after a noun + noun + verb. It can also be used in between two nouns. When used with ‘the,’ ‘same’ connotes equal in importance, shape, size, or value. It can also be used with a demonstrative, such as ‘that’ or ‘those.’ Take a look at the following examples:
- John and Henry look the same.
- This laptop and that laptop are the same.
- Reading a book is the same as exploring the author’s world.
- Those same criminals robbed my friend.
- My mother and I are the same height.
The word can be used as a synonym for ‘similar’ or other words. The synonyms of ‘similar’ include ‘akin’, ‘identical’, ‘like’, etc. They can be used interchangeably in most aspects, but may differ in their usage in academic writing. For example:
Incorrect: The method of the study is like meta-analysis.
Correct: The method of the study is comparable to meta-analysis.
Differences Between ‘Alike’ and ‘Same’
Both words are used in formal and informal writing, but there are key differences between them. ‘Alike’ can be used as an adjective or adverb, whereas ‘same’ is used as a descriptor to show that two or more things have a similarity of 100%.
‘Same’ can be used after ‘the’ or between ‘the’ and ‘as.’ It is a comparative. It should be followed by a noun when it is used with ‘the’ and as, and is never followed by ‘that’ or ‘than.’ For instance:
Incorrect: My new coffee mug is exactly the same than my old one.
Correct: My new coffee mug is exactly the same as my old one.
Incorrect: Does ‘end’ mean the same that ‘terminate’ in English?
Correct: Does ‘end’ mean the same as ‘terminate’ in English?
‘Alike’ should be used when comparing two things that have differences. For two objects that are identical, ‘same’ should be used. For example:
Incorrect: My bag is alike as her bag.
Correct: My bag is the same as her bag.
Incorrect: The two cats never behave alike when around other people.
Correct: The two cats never behave the same when around other people.
Tips for Correct Usage
Using these two words correctly is a matter of knowing which types of words precede or succeed them. ‘Alike’ is used as an adjective in the following sentences:
- The two pendants are very much alike.
- All the buildings look alike.
The word, however, is used as an adverb in the following sentence:
- They behaved alike on several important aspects
- She always talks to customers and friends alike in a friendly manner.
When using ‘same’, it is important to understand how and when it is used. For example, in business writing, it is sometimes used as a noun:
- I need the print copies for the meeting. Kindly send me the same as soon as possible.
- Please work on the same and forward it to me.
Although the usage can be confusing at first, it is important to use ‘alike’ and ‘same’ properly. Grammatical errors occur when these two words are used interchangeably. While they may mean similar things, their usage is entirely different. Keep these tips in mind the next time you want to compare ideas, things, or people.
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