'as' and 'like'

Do you know how to use like and as? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

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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.