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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


How and when they are used.

It's not always easy for learners to know when to use 'like' and 'as'. Here are some guidelines.

  • Like

    Like is a preposition, used before a noun or pronoun, to say that two things are similar.
    They behave or operate in the same way.

    • In his job he works like a slave.
    • The children swim like fish.
    • The boy runs like a hare.
    • I slept like a baby.

  • As

    As, as a preposition, before a noun or pronoun, is used to refer to jobs or functions,
    the role of a person or the use of something.

    • My father worked as an accountant.
    • Caroline was employed as a teacher.
    • The author is respected as a writer.
    • He used a saucer as an ashtray.

  • Compare

    • I am your friend, and as your friend I advise you to be careful.
      = It is my role as a friend to warn you.

    • I don't know you, but like your friend, I advise you to be careful.
      = I think the same way as your friend. I am like your friend in that respect.

LIKE and AS are also used as below:

As a verb meaning ‘enjoy’.
• Sam likes chocolate. / Children like milk.
• I like going to the beach. / She likes getting up early.
As a noun:
the ‘like’ (=similar types)
• I enjoy classical music but I prefer jazz, rock and the like.
• You’re not going to associate with the likes of him!
As an adjective meaning ‘similar’
• They’re as like as two peas in a pod. (= as similar as)
• The two experts were of like mind. (= of similar mind)
• We responded in like manner. (=in a similar way)
In spoken English, ‘like’ can be
used as a conjunction connecting
two clauses.
Considered incorrect in traditional grammar books,
so best avoided in academic writing.
• He acted like he owned the place. (= as if)
• Nobody can sing like you do.(= the same way as)
Like I said, you’re welcome to join us for lunch. (=as I said)
As an adverb
- ‘just like’
• She was extremely polite, as always.
• The ‘h’ in ‘heir’ is silent, as in ‘hour’.
As a conjunction
-connection two clauses
- meaning ‘while’
- meaning ‘although’
- meaning ‘the way in which’
- meaning ‘because’ or ‘since’*
  (*use carefully to avoid any confusion)

• It's very expensive, as you know.
• The phone rang as I was watching television. (=while)
• Tired as he was he still finished the race.(although)
• We left the room as it was. (the way in which)
• Julie may need help as she’s new to the job. (=because)

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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