In one of our previous posts, we dealt with Present Simple and its use in Law Enforcement English. When police officers interrogate a witness and they want to get to know some details about a perpetrator, they might ask the witness: “What does the perpetrator look like?” or “What is he like?”

Both questions are valid, and refer to different aspects of the criminal. Now, we are going to take a look at the differences between Like, Look Like, To Be Like.

  • Like

Usually, like refers to an preference, taste or enjoyment. Study this example:

She likes chatting with her victims, before she knocks them out and robs them.

As this example shows, there might be a a serial offender, who takes advantage of her victims by knocking them out and taking their money. Since this is her possible MO (modus operandi), we use ‘like’ as a way of describing her criminal preference of operation.

“What does the offender look like?”

However, in Law Enforcement English, we might encounter with two other types of ‘likes’.

  • Look Like

We use ‘look like’ to describe an appearance: a witness might be asked the question: “What does the offender look like?” And the question can be: “He was wearing a dark blue coat and he was a tall man in his fifties.” (You can find more on personal description here.) Also, you can use ‘look’ as well, followed by an adjective: “She looked innocent.”

  • To Be Like

‘To Be Like’, however, describes a character of an offender, for example. When asked with the question: “What was your captor like?”, a victim might answer: “He was very aggressive at times, but he seemed very trustworthy in the beginning.”

There are three types of ‘like’, one describes preference (‘They like spending money for drugs.’), the other describes appearance (‘She looked tired’ OR ‘She looked like a victim.’) , and lastly, the third describes a characteristics of a person (‘What was he like?’ ‘He was very shy.’)

If you would like to practice ‘Like, to be like, look like’, check out this online course, where you will get to practice a the basics of Law Enforcement English.

Check out our course: Introduction to Law Enforcement English (click on the picture)