'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 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

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

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.

The LearnEnglish Team

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.

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your help.
I highly appreciate it.
You are super teacher as me.
I really have as much experience as you.
I have a proven skills and technical methods.

Teachers, I'd like to know clearly about No.6 of Exercise-2. It stated, " I slept on the train, using my jacket ---- a pillow". I confused to fill "as" or "like" in the blank. Is the jacket a similar use like a pillow or the same use as a pillow? Pls.

I love this web site such a great exercise they have!! It is a perfect web site and resource to learn English by yourself
Hi Teacher, Can I use both 'as if' or 'as though' in same context? f exmpl, can I say, you ate as if you will never have a pizza again you ate as though you will never have a pizza again. Thanks
To be a master of English it's important to understand such lingual niceties as the correct use of the structures with 'as' and 'like': the grammar explanation – as for me – is supportive, complete, confirmed by illustrative examples, generally speaking is perfect.
Hello Sir, In English, do we say “ I don’t play basketball as well as he does” or “ I play basketball not as well as he does”? Thank you very much

Hello mynameiscg,

The first one is correct, and the second one is not.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello PLion2020,

Most people can learn a lot from self-study. We've had users who reported making lots of progress by using our Skills and Podcasts, so I'd encourage you to check those out. You might also want to consider subscribing -- there are already hours and hours worth of materials available there, and every month we add more new materials there.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Teacher ! I'd like to know, if there is a spécific meaning if I use "as if" or " As thoug" for exemple : " You look as if you've see a ghost " , can I also say " You look as thoug you've seen a ghost" if there is a difference betwen "as if" and "as Thouh" what is the right way to use them ?

Hello flowerpower,

Aside from 'as if' being a little more informal, there is no difference in meaning between 'as if' and 'as though'. You could use either of them in that sentence and they'd both mean the same thing.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Subido por MARUFA MARJAN … (no verificado) el Vie, 19/02/2021 - 16:22

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Teachers I'm totally confused about the structure of "as if".... I have read that we must use past tense after "as if" when we're taking about imaginary comparison, then why the above example "You look as if you have seen a ghost" is in present tense(present perfect) ???? Isn't ghost an imaginary thing? Or we're considering that it might be real?


You're correct that we use a present form after 'as if' when we consider the situation true or possible, so 'as if you had seen...' is strictly the logical choice here. However, people are not always entirely logical and the speaker in this example is speaking as if it were true that ghosts exist. I can't say if they really believe in ghosts or if they are simply saying this for rhetorical effect.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Can I use comperative forms such as 'as more beautiful as, as easier as' instead of normal adjectives??
I am not sure,but I think it is not gramatically use as ..as in comperative case of adjective.I was taught as...as is used in normal degree. For example: i was as pretty as her or he is as tall as his father and so on

Hello Zin Mar Htun,

Many people say 'He acts like he knows everything' and so it is correct from that point of view. It would probably be better to say 'as if' instead of 'like', though, since probably he actually doesn't know everything. As is explained above, we use 'as if' or 'as though' when comparing a real situation ('He acts') with an imaginary situation ('he knows everything').

The second sentence is not wrong, but it's a little unclear. It could mean 'They can't love you like they can love me' or it could mean 'They can't love you like I can love you'. I'd suggest you make the sentence more specific so that the meaning is clear.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Teachers, good afternoon I have a doubt at the exercise "Grammar B1-B2: 'as' and 'like': 2". The first sentence: She worked____ a journalist before writing her first novel. I put 'like', as the explanation of like + noun. But for my surprise it was..wrong. I did not understand. Can you explain it to me?

Hi simonenmourao,

Yes, as and like are a bit tricky :)

Like + noun is correct. But, like isn't the only word that is followed by a noun. We use as + noun too, especially to talk about a job or function. Here are some examples.

  • I worked as a shop assistant for two years.
  • He used his coat as a blanket to keep warm.

Does that make sense?


The LearnEnglish Team