During my childhood, too many decades ago, I would "pretend" or "pretend that," for example, I lived in the woods. Nowadays it seems that people everywhere, including my own offspring, "pretend like." The construction makes no sense to me, nor do I know where it comes from. Can anyone offer some insight?
By Ngram, 'pretend like' has spiked up sharply since 1980 ( though if you put in 'pretend,' the like version is still a tiny fraction ).
Here it is with its sibling "pretend as if."
"Pretend that" eclipses the other two.
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