'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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Hello Ujin,

When we want to show that two things are equal in some area then we can use the construction as + adjective + as. For example:

He's as old as she is. [equal age]

My daughter is as tall as my son. [equal height]

You can also use a phrase headed by an adjective:

Paul is as nice to talk to as anyone I know. [equally nice]

15-18 year olds spent twice as much time online as 18-21 year olds. [equal time]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir, Thank you in advance for your time. The sentence above as you suggested that Paul is as nice to talk to as anyone I know. By my understanding, everyone I know is very nice to talk to and Paul is one of them, right?

Hello Ujin,

Your interpretation is almost correct. It means that Paul and all the other people I know are equally nice to talk to, but the sentence doesn't specifically say that all of them are very nice to talk to. Probably that is what the speaker means, but the sentence doesn't specifically say that.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I am Mr Sylla Mohamed from Guinea Conakry . I am very happy for this kind of training .
I feel a lot more confident speaking as I improve my grammar . I really think these practices are beneficial .
Hi, everybody, I worked as a civil engineering for many years. I enjoyed learning English with the British Council, as though I have never learned English before. As I found myself here, I should tell my friends about them.
I consider this lesson was useful as practical to use in my dairy life. What we should learn to improve our language skills and fluency when we coment or discuss are those words linkers.
I have completed this test but i am literally confused in grammar 2 test question number 7 it is about insects and butterflies

Hello Shishirsharma,

In question 7 of Grammar test 2 the correct answer is like.

 

The sentence contains some examples, which is why like is used. For example, here is the sentence without those examples:

Many fruit trees need insects to help them produce fruit.

We use like to add examples:

Many fruit trees need insects like bees and butterflies to help them produce fruit.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I already completed this lesson, I just have a doubt, Why the answer in question number 7 is "like" ? All my answer were correct but I just have doubt in number 7. Thank you!! :)

Hello Alinestela,

I guess you are referring to the second exercise (Grammar test 2). The answer here is like because it introduces some examples. You can use like here or such as, but not just as.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I feel very different after reading and practice this session as it changed my knowledge on how to differentiate AS and LIKE. Thank you guys
"And then the man he steps right up to the microphone , and says at last just as the time bell rings : thanks you goodnight now it is time to go home and he makes it fast with one more thing we are the sultans of swing"
You guys are realy awesome W'v been talking as if we knew each other years back. As I'm going back home I'll tell my people about your kindness and love to me. Thanks again and I hope you'll visit my country in the future.
Thanks for this free course and the detail that help me to understand the difference of using as and like, it's very useful. Thanks a lot.
Thanks for detail explanation for "as" and "like"! It is very clear and I find that it is very useful! Thanks!
Hello Kirk, In the example sentences given on the website :- 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. 1. Are "as" used as subordinating conjunctions in the above adverb clauses ? 2.I have seen that These type of uses including "as far as..... is concerned" are also used as conjunctive adverbs /sentence connectors . Can you please clarify the above confusion. Warm regards.

Hello Bharati

I'm afraid we can't help you with this. I realise that we have helped you and other users with this sort of query in the past, but I'm afraid we have are less and less able to provide this kind of private instruction, especially when the questions deal with such detailed sentence analysis.

Thanks in advance for your understanding.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk, In the example sentences given on the website :- 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. 1. Are "as" used as subordinating conjunctions in the above adverb clauses ? 2.I have seen that These type of uses including "as far as..... is concerned" are also used as conjunctive adverbs /sentence connectors . Can you please clarify the above confusion. Warm regards
Hello teacher! I have understood that "as if and as though" are used to compare a real situation to an imaginary one, but the question is, can I say "she replied to all the questions that were asked by the pharmacist as though she studied medicine"?

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 , 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

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