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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

Hi cms10,

1. It's hard to be sure without knowing the context of the sentence. However, I would guess that the speaker is referring to a time before they tried whatever it is they are talking about. Thus you have three time references:

> now - it is exciting

> past - I started the activity

> further past - before I started the activity

 

2. No, that does not work. If you want to use the active form (intended) rather than the passive (was intended) then you need to be consistent and use an active verb following it (to spend not to be spent). You also need to include the subject:

You spent more money than you intended to spend.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello English Team,

1. the books as listed below. - I saw this sentence on a website about the use of "as". It says "the books as listed below" is different from "the books listed below" but without giving an explanation. Could you tell me the difference between the two?

2. "She felt a great sense of pride as she watched him accept the award."; "The companies have upgraded their networks to improve their capacity as data traffic increases." - In these two sentences, could I replace "as" with "when"?

Thanks a lot teachers!

Hello Kashvi.la27,

In this context 'as' means something like 'in the way'. Thus, 'listed below' tells us simply that the books are below the text. 'As listed below' would suggest a method or way of doing something. In the context of listing books for reference I don't think the difference is really important, but it would be important if, for example, the sequence were crucial for some reason.

 

As a time marker, 'as' tells us that one event occured simultaneously with another event; this would include one event occuring while another event is in progress. 'When' suggests that either the two events started together, or

 

She felt a great sense of pride as she watched him accept the award.

Replacing as with when changes the sentence somewhat. As tells us that she felt pride during the process of his accepting the award. When tells us that the event of his accepting caused her to feel pride. It doesn't tell us that she felt pride during the event (though she may have).

 

The companies have upgraded their networks to improve their capacity as data traffic increases.

Again, as here tells that the improvement takes place during the increase. Data traffic may increase every day and the improvement will keep pace with this. When would tell us that we expect an increase in data traffic at some point and the capacity will improve at this moment.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your reply teacher.

You said "'When' suggests that either the two events started together, or" - May I know whether you accidentally deleted the second part of the sentence?

"She felt a great sense of pride as she watched him accept the award." - Regarding this sentence, when I saw this sentence, I thought "when" was a better choice because her feeling was caused by her watching him accept the award, whereas "as" does not convey the meaning of a causal relationship.

Is this analysis of the sentence correct?

Hello again Kashvi.la27,

It seems the second half of the sentence was deleted by mistake. The full sentence was this:

When suggests that either the two events started together, or that one began immediately after the other began, possibly because it was caused by the first event.

 

Ordinarily, when would emphasise the possibility of a causal relationship, as you say. However, the particular context of your example makes the causality self-evident already. Given this, the choice is really whether you want to emphasise that the pride was felt during the receiving of the award or as a result of the receiving. The first (with as) suggests that the whole process - the ceremony etc - creates the woman's pride. The second (with when) suggests that it is the achievement - the actual award itself - which creates the woman's pride.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

This lesson is perfectly summarized and it´s easy to understand . Thank

Hello English Team,

I have two questions:

(1) A review process can be changed as circumstances dictate. - What is the meaning of "as" in this sentence? Could I use "while" or "when" instead?
(2) Please pile your homework books neatly on the table as you leave. - Could I use "before" in this sentence?

Thanks a lot teachers.

Hello Kashvl.la27,

In (1), 'as' means 'in the way that someone says or that something happens, or in the condition something is in' (see entry 2.2 in the Longman dictionary). 'while' would not be correct here; 'when' would be possible and would have a similar meaning.

In (2) you could indeed say 'before' instead of 'as'. Although some might argue that 'before' and 'as' have different meanings here (the first being before you leave, the second being while you leave), but for most situations you could say both of these to achieve the same result.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your reply teacher. As to the second sentence, could I use "while" or "when" instead?

Hello Kashvi.la27,

You could say 'when', but 'while' would not be correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

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