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'as' and 'like'

Do you know how to use as and like correctly?

Look at these examples to see how as and like are used.

I worked as an actor for two years.
I went home early as I felt ill. 
He looks as if he hasn't slept.
As you know, this is the third time I've had to complain.
He looks like his dad. 
She's like a sister to me.
Try to do something relaxing, like reading a book or having a bath.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

'as' and 'like': Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

as and like are often confused since they can both be used for comparisons. There are, however, important differences.

Making comparisons

as + adjective + as and as much as

We often use the structure as + adjective + as or as much as to say if something has, or doesn't have, the same amount of that quality as something else. 

She loves curry as much as I do.
He's not as tall as his brother.
It's not as expensive as the other hotel.
That dog is as big as that child!

You also have to use as in the expression the same as.

Your phone is the same as mine.
Texting is not the same as speaking in person.

like + noun

In the following comparisons, like is followed by a noun or a pronoun to say that two things are similar.

He's like a father to me.
She's acting like a child.
It's like a burger but with big mushrooms instead of bread.
There are lots of people like us.

It is also common to make comparisons using like with verbs of the senses.

She looks like her mother.
It sounds like a cat.
Nothing tastes like homemade lemonade.
It smells like medicine.
It feels like cotton.

as if/as though + clause

As if and as though can be used to compare a real situation to an imaginary situation. They are followed by a clause (a subject and verb).

You look as if you've seen a ghost.
I felt as if I was floating above the ground.
You talk as though we're never going to see each other again.

Giving examples

We can say like or such as to give examples. 

You could try a team sport like football, basketball or hockey.
You should take something soft, such as a towel, to lie on.

 

Talking about a job or function

We can use as + noun to talk about a job or function. 

I worked as a shop assistant for two years.
He used his coat as a blanket to keep warm.

 

as to connect two phrases

as can be used as a conjunction to connect two phrases. It can have different meanings.

as = 'because'

All the tickets were sold out as we got there too late.
As the road was closed, I had to park on the next street.

as = 'while' or 'during the time that'

She called as I was getting out of the bath.
As they were arriving, we were leaving.

as'in the way that'

As we expected, it started to rain.
As you know, classes restart on 15 January.
As I said, I think this project will be a challenge.

** Note that in informal speech, people sometimes say like for 'in the way that'.

Like I said, I didn't know her.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

'as' and 'like': Grammar test 2

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Hello English team,
If possible, please tell me the difference between when and while. I would also like to know if we can use 'as' as a replacement for 'when'.

Hi Raazg9894,

Both ‘when’ and ‘while’ have several meanings. I’ll keep to just time-related meanings here.

WHEN
1. Two things at the same time: ‘When it is 10 p.m. in New York, it is 7 p.m. in Los Angeles.’
2. One action follows another: ‘When I sent her a message, she replied immediately.’
3. An action in the middle of a longer action: ‘When he called, I was studying.’

WHILE
4. Two long actions that happen together: ‘While the players were playing, the fans were cheering.’
5. A longer action, with another action in the middle of it: ‘He called while I was studying.’

In the last example, it’s also possible to use ‘when’: ‘He called when I was studying’. But I would say the ‘while’ version is preferable. ‘While’ gives a stronger sense that the action (‘was studying’) went on for a period of time.

AS
We can use ‘as’ for meanings 4 and 5 above. We can also use it for a meaning similar to ‘when’, but there is a difference. ‘As’ suggests the actions are not connected, but ‘when’ suggests that one action caused the other.

- As I entered the building, he left (by chance or coincidence).
- When I entered the building, he left (because he didn’t like me).

Have a look at this page from Cambridge Dictionary for more explanation and examples: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/as-when-or-while

Best wishes,

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

15-18 year olds spent twice as much time online as 18-21 year olds.

Hello Sir,

I can not grasp 'as' in this sentence above, though I understand the meaning to be wanted to say.
Can we use 'as' as a comparison?

Hello Ujin,

When we want to show that two things are equal in some area then we can use the construction as + adjective + as. For example:

He's as old as she is. [equal age]

My daughter is as tall as my son. [equal height]

You can also use a phrase headed by an adjective:

Paul is as nice to talk to as anyone I know. [equally nice]

15-18 year olds spent twice as much time online as 18-21 year olds. [equal time]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

Thank you in advance for your time.
The sentence above as you suggested that Paul is as nice to talk to as anyone I know. By my understanding, everyone I know is very nice to talk to and Paul is one of them, right?

Hello Ujin,

Your interpretation is almost correct. It means that Paul and all the other people I know are equally nice to talk to, but the sentence doesn't specifically say that all of them are very nice to talk to. Probably that is what the speaker means, but the sentence doesn't specifically say that.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I got 100%. Well done..

I am Mr Sylla Mohamed from Guinea Conakry . I am very happy for this kind of training .

I feel a lot more confident speaking as I improve my grammar . I really think these practices are beneficial .

Hi, everybody,
I worked as a civil engineering for many years.
I enjoyed learning English with the British Council, as though I have never learned English before. As I found myself here, I should tell my friends about them.

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