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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 Romii

It's hard for me to say without knowing whether the person you are talking about studied medicine or not. In any case, it would be better to say 'as though she had studied medicine' if you are imagining that she studied medicine before the time the pharmacist and this woman spoke. If you say this, it means that the woman ('she') did not study medicine.

If that's not clear, could you please provide another example and explain what is true and what is imaginary?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Ngoc

You could say 'saw' here and that would also be correct. In fact, normally we use past verb forms (such as the past simple or past perfect) to refer to imaginary situations, but there are some exceptions, such as this one. 'as if you've seen' also makes it clear that the speaker is speaking about the listener right now and that the speaker expects the sighting of the ghost (so to speak) was quite recent. 'as if you saw' isn't as specific in this way, i.e. it doesn't necessarily refer to a recent imaginary past -- only to an imaginary past.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Very interesting

It's quiet helpful.

hello , thank you for theese explanations, but it's still confusing for me ,may be i have to focus in more.
thank you teachers and i m sorry for my english

Sir can we use like in comparision of a real situation to a imaginary situation?
such as It's feels like I'm floating in air.
Is it correct or incorrect?

Hello itspb008,

Both like and as if can be used for comparisions to real and imaginary situations.

The difference between like and as if is one of form rather than meaning. In traditional grammars, like is a preposition and as (if) is a conjunction. That means that like should be followed by an object - a noun phrase or pronoun, for example, rather than a clause, while as (if) should be followed by a sentence containing a verb phrase. However, this distinction has largely disappeared in all but the most formal writing, I would say, and in modern English like and as (if) are used interchangeably.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It seems as though I have lost the power to prevent my distraction.

Hi teachers,

There is one example "I felt as if I was floating above the ground.", can I say "I felt LIKE I was floating above the ground."? As I usually hear others using like instead of as if. Thanks.

Hello Chihchieh

Yes, in informal speaking or writing, that is fine. As it says near the bottom of the Grammar explanation:

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

Your sentence is a good example of this.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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