This word is commonly misused (comúnmente empleado mal), especially by the Americans. The word only has three uses, as an adjective, preposition and verb, as these examples demonstrate:
- Mr.Bean looks like Mr. Zapatero.
- Mr.Rajoy does not look like Mr. Sanchez.
- He thinks like us. (el piensa como nosotros).
- I like chocolate.
- What is the weather like in Tenerife?
- He is of a like mind (el tiene ideas afines).
The first three examples are comparisons (comparaciones), the fourth is affection or feeling for something, and the fifth example is its use as a preposition. The final example is its use an adjective. There are no other uses.
So here is a common and incorrect use of like: “you cook it like this”. In this example “like” is being treated as an adverb. The correct form should be”you cook it in this way” (de esta manera).
Another incorrect use (commonly heard) is: why does Mr. Obama talk like that?
The correct way would be to say: why does Mr. Obama talk in that way?
Another appalling (espantoso) misuse is this, for example: “he was, like, trying to avoid the question”. Here “like” is being used as an adverb, which it is not. Why not simply say: he was trying to avoid the question? Another common misuse or error is this often heard sentence: it sounds like the election is all over. “Like” is being used here as an adverb. The correct version would be: it sounds as if the election is all over.