'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 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?

Submitted by Sunyoung1005 on Wed, 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

Thanks for your detailed reply teacher. Regarding sentence 3, I also have the feeling that using "while" would suggest the signing of the contract had some duration. In sentence 3, is it correct to say "as" or "when" would be better than "while", although the latter is not grammatically correct?

No worries. All three words (whilewhenas) are grammatically correct in sentence 3. I don't think we can say which one is best – it just depends on how you want to represent the situation.

While shows that the action had duration, as you say. You can use this if you want to show clearly that one action happened in the middle of the other (noticing the missing page happened in the middle of signing).

If you just want to show that the two actions (signing and noticing the missing page) happened at the same time, as and when both work.

So, there's a small difference in meaning! But I guess that in most situations, this difference would not be important.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cms10 on Mon, 10/08/2020 - 18:24

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Hi Sir, 1. "This is as exciting as I had imagined." - Why is the past perfect tense used instead of the simple past tense? 2. "You spent more money than was intended to be spent." - Could I say "...than intended to be spent" instead? Thanks Sir.

Hi cms10,

1. It's hard to be sure without knowing the context of the sentence. However, I would guess that the speaker is referring to a time before they tried whatever it is they are talking about. Thus you have three time references:

> now - it is exciting

> past - I started the activity

> further past - before I started the activity

 

2. No, that does not work. If you want to use the active form (intended) rather than the passive (was intended) then you need to be consistent and use an active verb following it (to spend not to be spent). You also need to include the subject:

You spent more money than you intended to spend.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kashvi.la27 on Mon, 10/08/2020 - 05:55

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Hello English Team, 1. the books as listed below. - I saw this sentence on a website about the use of "as". It says "the books as listed below" is different from "the books listed below" but without giving an explanation. Could you tell me the difference between the two? 2. "She felt a great sense of pride as she watched him accept the award."; "The companies have upgraded their networks to improve their capacity as data traffic increases." - In these two sentences, could I replace "as" with "when"? Thanks a lot teachers!

Hello Kashvi.la27,

In this context 'as' means something like 'in the way'. Thus, 'listed below' tells us simply that the books are below the text. 'As listed below' would suggest a method or way of doing something. In the context of listing books for reference I don't think the difference is really important, but it would be important if, for example, the sequence were crucial for some reason.

 

As a time marker, 'as' tells us that one event occured simultaneously with another event; this would include one event occuring while another event is in progress. 'When' suggests that either the two events started together, or

 

She felt a great sense of pride as she watched him accept the award.

Replacing as with when changes the sentence somewhat. As tells us that she felt pride during the process of his accepting the award. When tells us that the event of his accepting caused her to feel pride. It doesn't tell us that she felt pride during the event (though she may have).

 

The companies have upgraded their networks to improve their capacity as data traffic increases.

Again, as here tells that the improvement takes place during the increase. Data traffic may increase every day and the improvement will keep pace with this. When would tell us that we expect an increase in data traffic at some point and the capacity will improve at this moment.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your reply teacher. You said "'When' suggests that either the two events started together, or" - May I know whether you accidentally deleted the second part of the sentence? "She felt a great sense of pride as she watched him accept the award." - Regarding this sentence, when I saw this sentence, I thought "when" was a better choice because her feeling was caused by her watching him accept the award, whereas "as" does not convey the meaning of a causal relationship. Is this analysis of the sentence correct?

Hello again Kashvi.la27,

It seems the second half of the sentence was deleted by mistake. The full sentence was this:

When suggests that either the two events started together, or that one began immediately after the other began, possibly because it was caused by the first event.

 

Ordinarily, when would emphasise the possibility of a causal relationship, as you say. However, the particular context of your example makes the causality self-evident already. Given this, the choice is really whether you want to emphasise that the pride was felt during the receiving of the award or as a result of the receiving. The first (with as) suggests that the whole process - the ceremony etc - creates the woman's pride. The second (with when) suggests that it is the achievement - the actual award itself - which creates the woman's pride.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by aniley on Sat, 08/08/2020 - 11:22

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This lesson is perfectly summarized and it´s easy to understand . Thank

Submitted by Kashvi.la27 on Mon, 03/08/2020 - 11:48

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Hello English Team, I have two questions: (1) A review process can be changed as circumstances dictate. - What is the meaning of "as" in this sentence? Could I use "while" or "when" instead? (2) Please pile your homework books neatly on the table as you leave. - Could I use "before" in this sentence? Thanks a lot teachers.

Hello Kashvl.la27,

In (1), 'as' means 'in the way that someone says or that something happens, or in the condition something is in' (see entry 2.2 in the Longman dictionary). 'while' would not be correct here; 'when' would be possible and would have a similar meaning.

In (2) you could indeed say 'before' instead of 'as'. Although some might argue that 'before' and 'as' have different meanings here (the first being before you leave, the second being while you leave), but for most situations you could say both of these to achieve the same result.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your reply teacher. As to the second sentence, could I use "while" or "when" instead?

Hello Kashvi.la27,

You could say 'when', but 'while' would not be correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Raazg9894 on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 12:47

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Hello English team, If possible, please tell me the difference between when and while. I would also like to know if we can use 'as' as a replacement for 'when'.
Hi Raazg9894, Both ‘when’ and ‘while’ have several meanings. I’ll keep to just time-related meanings here. WHEN 1. Two things at the same time: ‘When it is 10 p.m. in New York, it is 7 p.m. in Los Angeles.’ 2. One action follows another: ‘When I sent her a message, she replied immediately.’ 3. An action in the middle of a longer action: ‘When he called, I was studying.’ WHILE 4. Two long actions that happen together: ‘While the players were playing, the fans were cheering.’ 5. A longer action, with another action in the middle of it: ‘He called while I was studying.’ In the last example, it’s also possible to use ‘when’: ‘He called when I was studying’. But I would say the ‘while’ version is preferable. ‘While’ gives a stronger sense that the action (‘was studying’) went on for a period of time. AS We can use ‘as’ for meanings 4 and 5 above. We can also use it for a meaning similar to ‘when’, but there is a difference. ‘As’ suggests the actions are not connected, but ‘when’ suggests that one action caused the other. - As I entered the building, he left (by chance or coincidence). - When I entered the building, he left (because he didn’t like me). Have a look at this page from Cambridge Dictionary for more explanation and examples: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/as-when-or-while Best wishes, Jonathan The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ujin on Fri, 17/07/2020 - 06:02

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15-18 year olds spent twice as much time online as 18-21 year olds. Hello Sir, I can not grasp 'as' in this sentence above, though I understand the meaning to be wanted to say. Can we use 'as' as a comparison?

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

Submitted by Julio Teixeira on Thu, 16/07/2020 - 09:43

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I got 100%. Well done..

Submitted by SyllaAbc on Wed, 15/07/2020 - 19:31

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I am Mr Sylla Mohamed from Guinea Conakry . I am very happy for this kind of training .

Submitted by Roaa Zaky on Mon, 13/07/2020 - 01:03

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I feel a lot more confident speaking as I improve my grammar . I really think these practices are beneficial .

Submitted by Mohamed Mostafa on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 15:25

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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.

Submitted by Dastenova Firuza on Sat, 04/07/2020 - 16:37

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By doing exercises I renewed my knowledge about like and as

Submitted by Fernando Belmonte on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 17:14

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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.

Submitted by Fadwa Bakri Os… on Sun, 28/06/2020 - 14:43

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thank you.

Submitted by onyeaguchachienye on Tue, 23/06/2020 - 20:06

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thank you

Submitted by tchok on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 21:57

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Thank you for your help.

Submitted by Shishirsharma on Sun, 14/06/2020 - 05:25

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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

Submitted by Alinestela on Wed, 10/06/2020 - 04:59

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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!! :)

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 10/06/2020 - 07:20

In reply to by Alinestela

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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

Submitted by VERYKEYS on Tue, 09/06/2020 - 21:04

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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

Submitted by Scommel on Tue, 02/06/2020 - 18:54

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"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"

Submitted by Mekhri Mahksetova on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 05:47

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How it is good!! very easy to understand. thank you all who worked on it

Submitted by Aisha na Shadee on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 21:33

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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.

Submitted by Chairul25 on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 12:40

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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.

Submitted by DW on Thu, 21/05/2020 - 02:57

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Thanks for detail explanation for "as" and "like"! It is very clear and I find that it is very useful! Thanks!

Submitted by Janaemadd on Wed, 13/05/2020 - 05:38

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Hi it's great I really enjoyed it.

Submitted by Sonam Dargay on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 17:12

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Hi it's a great and enjoyed a lot. Thank you.

Submitted by Sonam Dargay on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 06:45

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Hi, Kirk I have enjoyed a lot and hope to learn some more in future!

Submitted by Bharati on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 07:04

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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

Submitted by MoussaSoumah on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 16:13

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Thank you, l found it very clear and easy to understand.