'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

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Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by farhadwahaj on Thu, 25/08/2022 - 10:25

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I knew of as like somehow, after this lesson I learned more about as and like and on usage, it was more useful.

Submitted by imonten2 on Tue, 23/08/2022 - 15:23

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This is helping me a lot!
Thanks a bunch!

Submitted by Ei Yadanar Khin on Wed, 17/08/2022 - 11:03

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I learnt a new thing and some new words .So thanks a lot techel.

Submitted by Ericka2002 on Wed, 10/08/2022 - 02:32

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I needed this leason

Submitted by dayanalipe on Tue, 19/07/2022 - 21:10

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Hi Teacher!
When giving examples:
You could try a team sport like football, basketball or hockey.
You should take something soft, such as a towel, to lie on.

Do we always use LIKE when mentioning a list, and SUCH AS when just naming a unique option? is that a rule?

Hi dayanalipe,

You can use both of these for both uses:

You could try a team sport like football, basketball or hockey.

You should take something soft, like a towel, to lie on.

You could try a team sport such as football, basketball or hockey.

You should take something soft, such as a towel, to lie on.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sky Light,

I think they are quite neutral in terms of style. You could use them in both formal and informal contexts.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Omair Ahmad Zai on Fri, 15/07/2022 - 06:10

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It was really helpful for me.
Thanks at all!!

Submitted by Agness on Tue, 12/07/2022 - 18:15

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Hi, teacher. I have a question. In the sentence "We've only just met, but I feel like though I've known you all my life. " Why "like" is incorrect?

Hello Agness,

There are three correct ways to express this idea using these words:

  1. 'I feel like I've known you'
  2. 'I feel as though I've known you'
  3. 'I feel as if I've known you'.

It's not correct to say 'like though'.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dianarosedi on Mon, 04/07/2022 - 18:22

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Hi teacher, I have a question. In the sentence " I slept on the train, using my jacket like a pillow." Why "like" is incorrect?

Hello Dianarosedi,

We use 'like' to mean 'similar to' or 'in a similar way to'. We use 'as' to mean 'in the same way' or 'in place of'.

In your example, the jacket is not just used in a similar way to a pillow; it effectively becomes the pillow. You are using it in exactly the same way as a pillow. Really, you are making a pillow out of your jacket, so 'as' is the best option.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by a1itofigh on Tue, 28/06/2022 - 06:30

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I really appreciate you. Good job.

Submitted by MR.ALABBAS on Tue, 17/05/2022 - 04:59

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it is great helpful lesson thanks a lot

Submitted by Solomon Dawud … on Sun, 15/05/2022 - 09:41

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It was very helpful as though I have never tested my English level tests.

Submitted by Duclkbgvcp on Mon, 25/04/2022 - 15:32

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Hi sir, I know this is Off-topic but
Do you know the difference between 'How do you feel' and 'What do you think'?
Thank you.

Hi Duclkbgvcp,

There is a difference in their literal meaning. 'How do you feel?' asks about feelings/emotions, and 'What do you think?' asks about thoughts/ideas. However, in everyday communication, people often use both questions in the same way - when they want to know the other person's reaction or view generally, no matter whether it involves feelings or thoughts.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Yes, I think" how do you feel?" is when asking about feelings and answer will be a degree of feeling like good, bad, better, sad, gappy...etc
On the other hand, what

The difference between feel and think is like the difference between the heart and the brain .
We feel inside our soul but we thinking by our brain .

Submitted by Panassum on Sun, 03/04/2022 - 18:16

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Dear teaching team,
I'm a little bit confused about the example "You look as if you've seen a ghost". Why it isn't "... as if YOU'D seen a ghost". It's an unreal past action, isn't it?

Hello Panassum,

The conjunction 'as if' does not introduce a condition. It introduces a comparison in the same way that 'like' does. Thus, we are not describing a hypothetical situation but rather a point of comparison and the present perfect form is correct: this is how a person looks who has just seen a ghost.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Ajay007,

I'm supposing what you mean is 'You looked as if you'd just seen a ghost'. In this case, 'have just seen' is not correct because a present perfect form doesn't coordinate with the past time of the past simple verb 'looked'. Instead, we use a past perfect form, which refers to a time previous to the one indicated by the past simple.

If you meant something else, please provide the specific sentence you're asking about.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emohammid on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 17:50

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great teachers , thank you for these lessons

Submitted by dung2dielts2017 on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 06:23

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Hi teachers,

I saw one example sentence from the University of Cambridge (from their dictionary) which is: 'The floods were rising and it was as if it was the end of the world.'

Could you please explain why we dont write '... as if it HAD BEEN the end of the world.' instead?

Thank you very much!

Dung

Hi Dung,

Had been (past perfect) shows that the action (the end of the world) happened earlier than the other past action. However, in this sentence, the rising floods themselves are what seem like the end of the world (i.e., it is at the same time as the floods). Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

I am not a teacher but I've noticed something it might help or not. Anyway, it says 'You LOOK as if you HAVE seen a ghost.' and the other example is 'The floods WERE rising and it WAS as if it WAS the end of the world.'

The first verbs give an idea about the time they were talking about so I believe we can understand the time and continue with a needed time.
But of course this is my idea it might be wrong as well. I reckon we need to look for more examples.

Submitted by farhadwahaj on Thu, 24/02/2022 - 06:15

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Hello!
This topic was very interesting, and I learned as much as I could about it. they are used for comparison. Thanks

Submitted by OlgaTi on Tue, 22/02/2022 - 19:32

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Very useful for me, thank you.

Submitted by zahra khawari on Mon, 31/01/2022 - 04:02

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hello have a great time
i need to understand and learn english as well as native language 'cause i am going to keep on my education in english language university.
my major will be medical sciences.
how can i progress earlier?

thanks alot for your reply

Hello zahra khawari,

That sounds like a great plan. I'd suggest you start working in our Skills section, where you can find lots of materials at different levels. If you already know your level, you can start with the materials at that level; if you don't know your level, try out quick level test (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/online-english-level-test). As you work, if you find it too difficult, try a lower level; if you find it very easy, try a higher level.

You might also want to consider our Online courses (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/online-courses), where you can choose from several paid options.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

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It is really helpful.

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

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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.

Jonathan
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.

Jonathan
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
Fabio

Hi Fabio65,

It's a nice song, isn't it? :)

No, it wouldn't be wrong to say "free like a bird". The underlying structure is "like" + noun (see the page above for more examples).

The phrase "free as a bird" suggests that the full phrase would be "as free as a bird", and the first "as" has been omitted. If the full phrase is used, the second "as" cannot be replaced with "like".

I hope that helps.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Imran 26,

We use 'as well as' when we want to add information. It has a similar meaning to 'in addition to' and we often use it when we have some new or surprising information to add to what is already known or obvious:

"The German language is spoken in Austria and Switzerland as well as in Germany."

The information after 'as well as' is already known; the information before this is possibly new.

The phrase *'as same as' is not a correct form.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Oung on Thu, 28/10/2021 - 18:53

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Is there any difference between 'as it were' and 'so to speak'? Thank you very much!

Hello Oung,

The phrases are similar.

We use these phrases when we want to show that something we said is not necessarily literally true, or should be interpreted to be understood properly.

I can't think of any specific difference between them but it's possible that one or other of the phrases might be better in particular contexts.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by zoachristian on Thu, 28/10/2021 - 06:21

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No comment, very instructive