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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, Can I use comperative forms such as 'as more beautiful as, as easier as'
instead of normal adjectives??

Hello Harry,

No, those are not grammatically correct forms.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

He acts like he knows everything.
They can't love you like me.

Am I right?

Hello Zin Mar Htun,

Many people say 'He acts like he knows everything' and so it is correct from that point of view. It would probably be better to say 'as if' instead of 'like', though, since probably he actually doesn't know everything. As is explained above, we use 'as if' or 'as though' when comparing a real situation ('He acts') with an imaginary situation ('he knows everything').

The second sentence is not wrong, but it's a little unclear. It could mean 'They can't love you like they can love me' or it could mean 'They can't love you like I can love you'. I'd suggest you make the sentence more specific so that the meaning is clear.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Teachers, good afternoon

I have a doubt at the exercise "Grammar B1-B2: 'as' and 'like': 2". The first sentence: She worked____ a journalist before writing her first novel. I put 'like', as the explanation of like + noun. But for my surprise it was..wrong. I did not understand. Can you explain it to me?

Hi simonenmourao,

Yes, as and like are a bit tricky :)

Like + noun is correct. But, like isn't the only word that is followed by a noun. We use as + noun too, especially to talk about a job or function. Here are some examples.

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

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

 

It is great to learn english as I get many things about English from this section.

Hello, would you advise a student to start a grammar course or work through the grammar reference first. Both appear to have exercises. Should a student complete all the beginner parts within the grammar reference, for example, then complete the grammar course for beginners and pre intermediates then return to the grammar reference and complete the intermediate parts? After this would the student then complete the lower and upper intermediate grammar course then return to complete the advanced parts within the the grammar reference section?
Thanks for any help and advice.

Hello Gadfly62,

There's no correct answer to this. It really depends on the individual learner. LearnEnglish is designed so that it can be used as a course, following a traditional level progression from A1 to C2, or as a self-access set of resources, which the learner selects from on the basis of their needs and interests.

 

The levels we have are intended only as guidance. They are necessarily generalisations and it's important to remember that each individual learner operates at a range of different levels: they may be very advanced in terms of reading and writing, but find speaking and listening very difficult, for example. Different learners have different needs, too: one person may need to be very accurate in writing for their job, which would suggest a focus on grammatical strutures, while another may need to be fluent without being particularly accurate.

 

I think the best advice I can give is for you to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, and to be conscious of your own needs. Use these to guide you and you will not go far wrong, I think.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It's a really helpful test. Thank you so much.

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