How to Use “Look”, “Be Like”, “Look Like”

When we describe people (or things), we can use the phrases “look”, “be like” and “look like”.


Follow the verb “look” with an adjective to describe someone’s emotion or state:

He looks happy.
She looks excited.
You look tired.

Remember to use do / does; don’t and doesn’t for negatives and questions.

You don’t look very happy.
Does he look sad, in your opinion?

You can also use “look” in the present continuous tense to talk about someone’s health:

“You’re looking good!” (= You’re in good shape!)
“He’s looking ill.” (= He appears ill.)

Be like

We use “be like” to talk about similarities (both physical and in character).

(Remember to change “be” to the correct form of the verb:

I’m like my sister.
David is like his father.
She’s like her mother.
Who are you like?
My sister and I aren’t like anyone else in our family.

You can also vary “be like” with other describing words:

He’s a lot like … (his brother)
He’s really like … (his brother)
He’s very like … (his brother)
He’s just like … (his brother)
He’s a bit like … (his brother)
He’s quite like … (his brother)

Remember to use the verb “to be” as the auxiliary for questions and negatives:

He isn’t like his mother at all!
Is he like his sister?

We can also use “be like” to ask for a description of places and things.

– I saw the new office building today.
– What’s it like? (= What is it like?)
– It’s beautiful!

– I saw the new Brad Pitt film last night.
– What was it like?
– Pretty good! He’s great in it.

Look like

Use “look like” to talk about a person’s physical similarity with another person.

I look like my mother.
You look like your sister.
He looks like his grandfather.

(Remember, with the verb “look” in the present simple tense, you need do / does; don’t / doesn’t to make questions and negatives.)

Do you look like your sister or your brother?
Does he look like his mother?
They don’t look like their parents.

Asking questions

Be careful with these questions

What is he like? = asks about personality

– What is he like?
– He’s nice. He’s friendly and chatty.

Who is he like? = asks about physical similarity or similar character to another person

– Who is he like?
– He’s quite like his mother. They both have brown eyes.
– He’s like his father. They’re both quite ambitious.

What does he look like? = asks for a physical description

– What does he look like?
– He’s tall and slim.

Who does he look like? = asks about physical similarity with another person

– Who does he look like?
– I think he looks like his mother.

Practise your listening!

Listen to three conversations. You can also read the tapescript as you listen.

Conversation 1

I’ve got a new boss
What’s he like?
He’s OK.

Conversation 2

I’ve just seen Justine’s new boyfriend.
Oh? What does he look like?
Tall, handsome – just her type!

Conversation 3

I went to see the new James Bond film last night.
Oh really. What was it like?
Not bad.