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I am really confused in regards to how 是 is used in 好像/像 sentences and sometimes not used.

For example, I can come up with something like 那朵云好像是一朵棉花。 (that cloud looks like cotton.) Can I omit 是 here?

In another case, I can compose a sentence such as 我想像 David Beckham 踢得太好 (I want to play soccer as well as David Beckham) and 是 is not used here.

Can somebody help me understand usages of 好像/像 and how 是 is used and sometimes not used in those sentences?

  • users note, in each of 像是一朵棉花, 想像 there is only one verb 是 in 1st case, 想 in 2nd – user6065 Jul 28 '18 at 9:53
  • So, you use 是 when there's no verb involved? Such as the first case? Also not in the second case because there's already a verb 踢? – 金允雄Oliver Jul 28 '18 at 9:56
  • I might be wrong here, but the '好像是' in '那朵云好像是一朵棉花' for me means 'seems to be' not 'looks like'... – Fai91 Jul 28 '18 at 10:15
  • @Fai91 What's the difference between "seems to be" and "looks like" ? – Bruce Huang Jul 28 '18 at 11:28
  • 1st example NP+像是+NP (NP noun phrase,do not omit 是 ) 2nd 像+NP+V+得+adj/adv see grammars, Making comparisons 象 bkrs:好像是,像是 1)相似。 如:「这些人造花做得像是真花一般。」(it) looks like, it is likely,大概,好像是,看来,也许,好像是你对,it looks as if you are right,2) 彷佛。 如:「听他的口气像是已经下定决心了。」as if iciba: look like; seem; This is more like a downpayment, or a deposit, if you like.这更像是首付,也可以说是定金。(there are more examples) 好像是 can be "I am afraid so", 像 (2)v. resemble; be like; take after; similar; alike,(4) 模拟 [imitate](5) 仿效 [follow the example of](6) 依随, 顺遂 [comply with] 像了他意, 再无妒忌。 --《古今小说》 also search site for previous disc – user6065 Jul 28 '18 at 12:34
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那朵云好像是一朵棉花。
好像 adv. seem; as if; as though
verb. is

那朵云好像一朵棉花。
好像 verb. seems to be... ; looks like...
It is actually the combination of 好(quite; pretty much) and 像(seems to be).

是 here is a verb in your sentence, but we can omit 是 because 好像 can also be a verb. And the meaning is almost the same no matter whether there is 是.

我想像 David Beckham 踢得太好。(Actually, we don't say like this.)
verb. want to; intend to; would like to; hope to.
preposition. resemble; such as

However, this sentence has some problem when you want to express "I want to play soccer as well as David Beckham." 太好 here would give a negative meaning like "play too good to ... (avoid some training wound/be out of spare time/take care of family...)". The situation you can use 太好 is in exclamatory sentence:

他踢球踢得太好了!

So I suggest to say:

我想像大卫•贝克汉姆踢得那么好。 play ... so good as ...
or
我想踢得像大卫•贝克汉姆一样好。 play ... as good as ...

  • Can I also say 我想像大卫·贝克汉姆一样足球踢得那么好? – 金允雄Oliver Jul 29 '18 at 1:22
  • Also, when using 像, is 一样 replaceable? – 金允雄Oliver Jul 29 '18 at 1:37
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    Yes, you may say that. 那朵云像棉花 = 那朵云像棉花一样 – Bruce Huang Jul 29 '18 at 9:19
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When 是 is used in 好像/像, meaning look like, similar to or as, you can omit 是, when 好像/像 means likely, seemingly, probably, you can not.

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