In our last lesson, we discussed the expression on se croirait (literally, "one would believe oneself"), which means "it feels like." Now we'll take a look at a similar expression: on dirait. Both are impersonal expressions using a verb in the conditional. On dirait literally means "one would say," but it's also a synonym of il semble (it seems/looks like).
When introducing a clause, on dirait is followed by que:
On dirait que les gens sortent de la terre
It looks like people are coming out of the ground
Caption 31, Lionel En studio d'enregistrement - Part 2Play Caption
But when it comes before a standalone noun ("it looks like x"), you don't need the que:
On dirait un serpent à pattes.
It looks like a serpent with paws.Play Caption
You can also use on dirait by itself, without introducing a noun or clause:
C'est ton jour de chance, on dirait.
It's your lucky day, it seems.
Caption 11, Marie & Jeremy MonopolyPlay Caption
Je suis rouge de colère. -On dirait pas.
I'm red with anger. -It doesn't look like it.
Captions 1-2, Sophie et Patrice Les couleursPlay Caption
Depending on context, on dirait can mean something more specific than "it seems/looks like":
On dirait que t'as huit ans
You act like an eight year old
Caption 45, Mika Elle Me DitPlay Caption
On dirait... on dirait Cluzet!
It sounds... it sounds like Cluzet [French actor]!Play Caption
And sometimes it comes closer to its literal meaning:
Belle, c'est un mot qu'on dirait inventé pour elle...
Beauty, it's a word you could say was invented for her...
[Beauty, it's a word that seems to have been invented for her...]Play Caption
But be careful: dire is a very common verb, so you'll just as often encounter on dirait used in a literal sense.
On dirait pas "as-tu", axe verbe en premier, sujet en deuxième
We wouldn't say "have you," verb in first position, subject in second
Caption 31, Le Québec parle aux Français - Part 4Play Caption
On dirait que cette leçon est terminée!