'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

Hello Gadfly62,

There's no correct answer to this. It really depends on the individual learner. LearnEnglish is designed so that it can be used as a course, following a traditional level progression from A1 to C2, or as a self-access set of resources, which the learner selects from on the basis of their needs and interests.

 

The levels we have are intended only as guidance. They are necessarily generalisations and it's important to remember that each individual learner operates at a range of different levels: they may be very advanced in terms of reading and writing, but find speaking and listening very difficult, for example. Different learners have different needs, too: one person may need to be very accurate in writing for their job, which would suggest a focus on grammatical strutures, while another may need to be fluent without being particularly accurate.

 

I think the best advice I can give is for you to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, and to be conscious of your own needs. Use these to guide you and you will not go far wrong, I think.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

is the backbone of any languages. BC is a great initiative for those who are interested in English language. I appreciate your work. BC 's team members are very supportive and they have work hard for students.

Hello Suraj Singh,

Thank you very much for your lovely comment. We try to help as many people as we can here on LearnEnglish and it's nice to know we are appreciated!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Salva77,

It's correct except for 'knocked the door'. I expect the idea here was 'knocked on the door', though 'knocked down the door' is also possible.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I wanna ask something.In the sentence"She is appealing as good as my sister."Is that correct???Can i also use "as much as instead of as good as" Thank you for your time

Hello Harry,

It is possible to use 'as much as', but I'm afraid your example doesn't make sense. You seem to be using 'appeal' as a verb here, which I don't understand.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much! Now I know the difference between as and like. I have to know English grammar well as a journalist. :)
Thank you for your course, it really helps me to improve my grammar skills. Now I know how and when to use 'as and like' difference of them. My English grammar not as good as I thought. I'll work hard on my general English as I can.
I think (As and Like) are important as we use them everyday in our daily life. Thank you
Hi teacher, May I know the difference between "as appropriate", "when appropriate", "where appropriate" and "if appropriate"? Thanks so much.
I can't ignore anyone. Both are highly important. This type of question for me like, Who is the greatest? Mother or Father.I don't care this type of question. Is In this context the use of "like" correct?And if have there any different errors,correct me please. Hope to hear from you.

Hello Tawid,

I think the way we would say it is this:

Questions like this one:

or

Questions like this:

 

However, I think the best way to say it would be to change the order a little:

I don't care for questions like this:

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

while its ambition of turning the company into one of the best, so too are the management ineptitude and structural obstacles that stand in their way. - Could I say "one of the best,...as are the management..." His frailty was evident, but so too was his deep feeling for her --> Could I say "but as was his..."? Thanks a lot.

Hello MarciaBT,

The first example does not make sense. It may be that the missing part of the sentence helps, but as it is quoted it is not grammatical.

In the second sentence you could replace 'but so too was his' with 'as was his' (without 'but').

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Teacher 1- I felt as if I was floating above the ground. 2- You talk as though we're never going to see each other again. in the previous sentences do i can replace (as if) by ( as though) and vice versa??

Hello Mr.hanymabrok,

Yes, you can write both of these sentences with 'as if', and you can also write both of them with 'as though'.

'as if' (and even 'like') are more common in informal speaking nowadays, and 'as though' is a bit formal. But they all mean the same thing.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi English Team, Hope you are doing well. I have a few Qs: 1. As the genetic secrets of muscle growth unfold, so the prospects for genetically manipulating muscle fibres improve. ---> Could I delete "so" here with no change in meaning? 2. Over time, as discontent grew, so did the number of protests. --> could I say "...the number of protests increased" 3. As global temperature rise, so too do health risks. --> How about "...health risks increase"

Hi IsabelTim_123,

Yes! All your suggestions work. It's good to be aware of various ways we can phrase things :)

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Jonathan, So is it correct to say there is no difference in meaning and it is only a matter of personal preference/style? Thanks.

Hi IsabelTim_123,

Yes, that's right. The meanings are the same, but the versions with so are more emphatic about the relatedness of the two events.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

It's now common to hear people say 'it looks like it'll be a good day,' which sounds restricted and slovenly.I prefer to say 'it looks as if it'll be a good day'. 'Like' is increasingly used as if it were the only available word for expressing probability or likelihood.Its use in this way suggests an unduly limited vocabulary. If this is seen as a matter of taste I suggest that there is good taste and there is bad taste. Even worse, such expressions as 'it was like he'd never seen me before' are now commonly heard.I should prefer 'it was as if he'd never seen me before'.This conveys the same meaning but is far more elegant.
Hi teachers, Wonder if you could help me: 1. As you get used to the work you will find it quite easy. [Am I right to say that the present tense should be used in the as-clause when referring to future?] 2. I will wash some clothes while you are out. [How about ...'when' or 'as' you are out?] 3. We will feel a lot better when we are lying on the beach next. [How about as or while here?] Thanks a lot.

Hi LubNko525,

1. The present tense is fine here. When we use 'as' with the meaning of 'when' (as in this example), the present tense is normal

2. 'While' is the most likely choice here as the action takes place during a longer period. 'When' is also possible. 'As' would have a different meaning. It would mean 'because' in this context.

3. Again, here 'as' would have the meaning 'because'. 'While' is fine.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir, I have two questions. Wonder if you could help me here... 1) "Britian's economy shrank by 22%, twice as MUCH as America." -- why is it not "as many as", given the word economy is a countable noun? 2) "You can fly to Paris for as LITTLE as 20 euros." -- why does it use "little" here? "Euros" here is a countable noun. Many thanks, Nicoletta

Hi nicolettalee,

In your first example, 'much' is used because you are not asking about the noun 'economy' but about the verb 'shrank'. In other words, you are asking about the degree of the action (an adverb), not the size of the noun (an adjective).

 

In your second question, 'little' describes the amount of money. When we talk about the cost of something we always ask 'How much...', even if the answer is in dollars, pounds, euros etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Could you explain the grammar structure of this sentence? I feel like he doesn't love me. What is the function of like in this sentence? Thank you
Hi teacher, It helps my concentration if I listen to music while I am working Can I use "as"? How about "while I work"? Thanks a lot teachers.

Hello AsahiYo20,

All of those are possible and the meaning does not change. It's really a question of style and preference here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear English Team, 1. Stand still while I take your photo. - Could I say when/as? 2. lawmakers have accused the police of standing by as men dressed in white attacked citizens last week - Could I say "while/when men dressed..."? 3. As it leaves the village, the road climbs steeply up the mountain - Same as Q2, could I say "while/when it leaves..."? Many thanks.

Hi IsabelTim_123,

I'll try to answer your questions in turn.

  1. You can use while and as. But if you are taking the photo right now (i.e. you are asking the person to stand still right now), you can't use when. That's because when I take your photo means something like 'at the time when I take your photo'. It would be unusual and indirect to refer to the present moment in this way.
  2. Yes, all three are possible.
  3. Yes, all three are possible. But, we might prefer one word or another if we see the sentence in full context. For example, we might prefer while if we want to give a sense of the limited duration of the action ('leaving the village'), e.g. While it leaves the village, the road climbs steeply up the mountain. Then, it flattens out

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, We had dessert as we watched TV Strike while the iron is hot Somebody broke into the house while we were out. In these three sentences, are 'while', 'when', and 'as' interchangeable? Thanks teachers.

Hi Kashvi.la27,

You can use whenwhile and as in these sentences, but they mean slightly different things.

While might be the best option in all three sentences. In sentence 1, I imagine 'having dessert' as a quick action, and 'watching TV' as a longer action. While shows that the action had duration, and you can use it to show that one action happened in the middle of the other (having dessert happened in the middle of watching TV). The same goes for sentence 3 – 'we were out' is a longer action, and 'someone broke in' happened in the middle of it.

In sentence 2, I also prefer while because an iron will stay hot for quite a long time. But importantly, Strike while the iron is hot is an idiomatic phrase, so we can't change its wording much.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

Hi cms10,

Yes! Using while we were watching makes the longer duration of the activity clear. The past continuous is often used with while.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

So both "We had dessert while we were watching TV" and "...while we watched TV" are grammatically correct? Apart from making the long duration clear by using the continuous tense, is there any difference in meaning? Thanks teacher.

Hi cms10,

Yes! Both are grammatically correct. But, the past continuous is often used with while and it would be the more common tense to use. No, there's no other difference in meaning.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hope you are doing well teachers! I consulted my guide as I walked around the cathedral. Would “while” be a possible alternative to "as" here because the sentence is talking about two long simultaneous actions? When I was looking up the word “force” on the Internet, I saw this definition: Force is the physical strength of something that is shown as it hits something else Would "when" be a possible alternative to "as" here?