'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

Language level

Intermediate: B1

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

Soumis par Helena Clever le mer 25/11/2020 - 15:42

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Thank you so much! Now I know the difference between as and like. I have to know English grammar well as a journalist. :)

Soumis par Anara SN le mar 24/11/2020 - 07:26

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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.

Soumis par Cecilio Franzoni le sam 14/11/2020 - 17:35

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As you know you are very important for me.

Soumis par Unicorn le dim 01/11/2020 - 15:21

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Thank you for providing these excercises. I just started practising my English skills.

Soumis par Karim.Karim le jeu 15/10/2020 - 12:00

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I think (As and Like) are important as we use them everyday in our daily life. Thank you

Soumis par Thurein Tin Soe le mer 07/10/2020 - 07:44

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It's so useful for me in learning English grammar. I really appreciate it.

Soumis par LilyLinSZ le ven 02/10/2020 - 12:39

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Hi teacher, May I know the difference between "as appropriate", "when appropriate", "where appropriate" and "if appropriate"? Thanks so much.

Soumis par Tawhid le mar 29/09/2020 - 06:56

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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

Soumis par MarciaBT le ven 11/09/2020 - 15:35

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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

Soumis par Mr.hanymabrok le ven 11/09/2020 - 08:58

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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

Soumis par IsabelTim_123 le jeu 10/09/2020 - 12:51

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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

Soumis par Norman A. Birt le jeu 10/09/2020 - 11:02

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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.

Soumis par LubNko525 le mer 09/09/2020 - 17:32

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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

Soumis par nicolettalee le mer 02/09/2020 - 02:24

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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

Soumis par giangphan le mar 25/08/2020 - 13:57

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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

Soumis par AsahiYo20 le dim 23/08/2020 - 03:46

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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

Soumis par IsabelTim_123 le jeu 20/08/2020 - 11:27

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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

Soumis par Kashvi.la27 le lun 17/08/2020 - 12:24

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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.

Soumis par Jonathan R le mar 18/08/2020 - 03:48

En réponse à par Kashvi.la27

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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 Sir, Thanks for your reply. Regarding the first sentence, could I say "We had dessert while we were watching TV"?

Soumis par Jonathan R le mer 19/08/2020 - 11:21

En réponse à par cms10

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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

Soumis par cms10 le ven 21/08/2020 - 16:32

En réponse à par Jonathan R

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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

Soumis par PabloTT le ven 14/08/2020 - 11:22

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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?

Hi PabloTT,

Yes! In the first sentence, while emphasises the duration of walking around the cathedral. In the second sentence, when means the same as as.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par MarciaBT le jeu 13/08/2020 - 11:43

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Another coach-load of people arrived as we were leaving. - Would "while" rather than "as" be possible here? Self-deprecation is a recurring feature as Stevenson talks. - Would "while" or "when" be possible here? We were lying on the beach sunbathing as they were playing volleyball. - Since the two actions are not related, would "while" be a better option here? Thank you so much teacher!

Hello MarciaBT,

Regarding your first question, we usually use 'while' to speak about two simultaneous long actions or situations. There is no strict definition of 'long', but in this case, the arrival of the coach is more of a point in time than a long action, so it would be odd to use 'while'. I would use 'as' here.

The second sentence sounds slightly odd to me because we usually speak about the feature of something, though I wouldn't say it's wrong. Personally, I'd say something like 'Self-deprecation is a recurring feature of Stevenson's talks.' I suppose you could say 'when' (though the sentence would sound equally as strange as the one you ask about due to 'feature of'), but 'while' would be even stranger for the same reason I mentioned above.

'while' would be the best option for the third sentence, for the same reason just mentioned.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your reply Kirk! Regarding the first sentence, from a grammar book I have, "as", "when" and "while" can be used to introduce a longer background action and to talk about something that happens when something else takes place. Could I say that "we were leaving" is a longer background action, thus justifying the use "while" in this sentence?

Soumis par Najmiii3579 le mer 12/08/2020 - 18:09

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Sir, what is the use and function of "as" in the following sentences" Would it still be grammatically correct if I delete it? - the requirements of this legislation are applied with modifications as set out in the supplemental regulations. - An invoice is for goods supplied or work done as agreed between a customer and supplier.

Hello Najmiii3579,

The first sentence is not really well-formed in my opinion, but yes, you could delete 'as' and it would mean much the same thing. This is not always possible, though. Here it works because it would be understood as a reduced relative clause ('modifications that were set out').

Without 'as', the second sentence would not be correct.

The explanation on this page doesn't fully cover all the uses of 'as'. You might find it useful to have a look at this page.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your explanation. I have looked up the meaning of “as”. One of its meaning is “in a similar way to sth” – Is this the meaning of “as” in 2nd sentence (“An invoice is for goods supplied or work done as agreed between a customer and supplier.”)? Am I right to say “as” cannot be deleted in this sentence because “… work done agreed” would not be grammatically correct if we changed it to a reduced relative clause?

Soumis par Sunyoung1005 le mer 12/08/2020 - 06:11

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Hi English Team, I am so glad to find out this page. It seems so useful to improve my English skills. And I have some questions: 1. The ice cracked as I stepped onto it. --> Could I use "when" instead of "as"? 2. He jumped to his feet as the boss came in. --> Could I use "when" instead of "as"? 3. As they were signing the contract, they noticed that a page was missing. --> Could I use "when" or "while" instead of "as"? Thanks a lot.

Hi Sunyoung1005,

Thanks for your kind comment :)

Yes, all three sentences work with both as and when. Both words show actions happening at the same time.

There's a small difference: when can also show actions happening one after the other (i.e. not at the same time). So, if one action caused the other one to happen, when is a good choice, and I slightly prefer when in sentences 1 and 2. But, we can also think of those actions as happening at the same time, so as is fine too.

In sentence 3, using while suggests that signing the contract had some duration (i.e. it took some time).

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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