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)

Submitted by Risa warysha on Sun, 30/01/2022 - 13:29


Hello teachers,
Would you please explain, which is correct from the following sentences.
-He treated me as if I made mistake.
-He treated me as if I had made mistake.
If both are correct, what is the difference?

Thank you, team.

Hello Risa warysha,

The second one is the correct form. The 'had made' form refers to an unreal past action, i.e. one that did not actually occur.

The 'made' form (in the first sentence) could only refer to the same time period as 'treated' or a later time period, but these don't make any sense as far as I can tell. One could possibly say 'He treated me as if I were making a mistake' to refer to an action happening at the same time as 'treated', but not 'made'.

Hope that clears it up for you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Girany on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 17:37


It is really helpful.

Submitted by Bo Bo Kyaw on Thu, 02/12/2021 - 15:40


Hello sir, this is an extract from a newspaper's article.
"Oxford Economics rates the probability of a repeat of 2014-15 as “medium” not high. (China’s inventory of unsold properties, it points out, is lower now than it was seven years ago.) It thinks the chances of a repeat of an American or a Spanish-style disaster are low. Both the scenarios assume that China’s policymakers would respond only by easing monetary policy. But a more forceful reaction seems likely. Although the authorities’ “pain threshold” has increased, meaning they do not intervene """"as quickly""""" to shore up growth, they still have their limits. “I don’t think the Chinese government is dogmatic. It is quite pragmatic,” says Tao Wang of ubs, a bank.
I would like to know what as in “as quickly” phrase means. Is the usage of “as” here the same as “As—As” used in comparison? If it was used as a comparison, why did they use just one ‘as’? Does it have to be two “as---as” form?
I also noticed these examples from reading some news.
• Before covid-19 the country had only 3.6 critical-care beds per 100,000 people. Singapore has three times ***as*** many.
• Thanks to this doctor’s unique method, he first injection to the baby has never been easier. The second shot doesn’t go quite ***as*** smoothly though.
Please kindly explain the usage of as in these examples as well and give me more examples with this kind of usage so that I can understand. I would like to have confidence in my knowledge. Thank you sir.

Hi Bo Bo Kyaw,

Yes! This is the 'as ... as ...' meaning used in comparison. In these examples, the second 'as' is implied, rather than stated explicitly. The meanings are:

-- they do not intervene as quickly as they would without the high 'pain threshold'
-- three times as many as what was mentioned in the previous sentence
-- The second shot doesn’t go quite as smoothly as the first injection.

I hope that helps.

The LearnEnglish Team

Yes sir, your explanation helps a lot. But I would appreciate very much if you could give me more examples of your own so that I can use well sir.

Hi Bo Bo Kyaw,

Sure. Here are some more examples.

-- His sister's 2 metres tall. But he's not as tall. (i.e., He's not as tall as his sister.
-- The other hotel's very expensive. This one's not as expensive. (i.e., It's not as expensive as the other hotel.)
-- Warsaw has a population of 1.7 million people. Budapest is just as big. (i.e., It is just as big as Warsaw)

As you can see, only the first part of the structure, "as" + adjective or adverb, is present. The second part of the structure (the second "as") is not present. Instead, we use information from the previous sentence to understand what "as + adjective" is comparing to.

I hope that helps.

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a million sir.
Could you kindly check if these sentences are correct? sir
E.g. 1 There were many people in the cinema. I didn't expect so many.
E.g. 2 Dylan has a lot of friends. But I don't have as many.
E.g. 3 My cousin has travelled to a lot of places. I have not travelled to as many.
E.g. 4 Japanese people work very hard. We don't work as hard.

Hi Jonathan,

I remember that the Beatles had a song called: "Free as a bird". Would it be wrong to say "Free like a bird"? (If not, then please explain).

Thanks in advance