Using 'as' and 'like'

Using 'as' and 'like'

Do you know how to use like and as? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Average: 4.7 (59 votes)

Hello MarciaBT,

If it were me, I'd choose 'as', but yes, you could use 'while' there.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Najmiii3579 on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 18:09

Sir, what is the use and function of "as" in the following sentences" Would it still be grammatically correct if I delete it? - the requirements of this legislation are applied with modifications as set out in the supplemental regulations. - An invoice is for goods supplied or work done as agreed between a customer and supplier.

Hello Najmiii3579,

The first sentence is not really well-formed in my opinion, but yes, you could delete 'as' and it would mean much the same thing. This is not always possible, though. Here it works because it would be understood as a reduced relative clause ('modifications that were set out').

Without 'as', the second sentence would not be correct.

The explanation on this page doesn't fully cover all the uses of 'as'. You might find it useful to have a look at this page.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your explanation. I have looked up the meaning of “as”. One of its meaning is “in a similar way to sth” – Is this the meaning of “as” in 2nd sentence (“An invoice is for goods supplied or work done as agreed between a customer and supplier.”)? Am I right to say “as” cannot be deleted in this sentence because “… work done agreed” would not be grammatically correct if we changed it to a reduced relative clause?

Submitted by Sunyoung1005 on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 06:11

Hi English Team, I am so glad to find out this page. It seems so useful to improve my English skills. And I have some questions: 1. The ice cracked as I stepped onto it. --> Could I use "when" instead of "as"? 2. He jumped to his feet as the boss came in. --> Could I use "when" instead of "as"? 3. As they were signing the contract, they noticed that a page was missing. --> Could I use "when" or "while" instead of "as"? Thanks a lot.

Hi Sunyoung1005,

Thanks for your kind comment :)

Yes, all three sentences work with both as and when. Both words show actions happening at the same time.

There's a small difference: when can also show actions happening one after the other (i.e. not at the same time). So, if one action caused the other one to happen, when is a good choice, and I slightly prefer when in sentences 1 and 2. But, we can also think of those actions as happening at the same time, so as is fine too.

In sentence 3, using while suggests that signing the contract had some duration (i.e. it took some time).

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your detailed reply teacher. Regarding sentence 3, I also have the feeling that using "while" would suggest the signing of the contract had some duration. In sentence 3, is it correct to say "as" or "when" would be better than "while", although the latter is not grammatically correct?

No worries. All three words (whilewhenas) are grammatically correct in sentence 3. I don't think we can say which one is best – it just depends on how you want to represent the situation.

While shows that the action had duration, as you say. You can use this if you want to show clearly that one action happened in the middle of the other (noticing the missing page happened in the middle of signing).

If you just want to show that the two actions (signing and noticing the missing page) happened at the same time, as and when both work.

So, there's a small difference in meaning! But I guess that in most situations, this difference would not be important.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cms10 on Mon, 10/08/2020 - 18:24

Hi Sir, 1. "This is as exciting as I had imagined." - Why is the past perfect tense used instead of the simple past tense? 2. "You spent more money than was intended to be spent." - Could I say "...than intended to be spent" instead? Thanks Sir.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 06:34

In reply to by cms10


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.



The LearnEnglish Team