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English Grammar  

How and when to use 'like' and 'as' in English.

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.
    • 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:

LIKE: As a verb meaning ‘enjoy’.
  • Sam likes chocolate chip cookies.
  • Children like milk.
  • I like going to the beach.
  • Anne likes getting letters from her children.
LIKE: As a noun: the like/the likes (=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!
LIKE: 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)
LIKE: (instead of 'such as') can be used to introduce examples:
  • English is spoken as a first language in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada...
  • You'll see lots of birds, like ducks and gulls, in this park.
LIKE: (in spoken English) can be used as a conjunction connecting two clauses.
*NB: This is 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: As an adverb meaning ‘just like’.
  • She was extremely polite, as always.
  • The ‘h’ in ‘heir’ is silent, as in ‘hour’.
AS: As a conjunction:
- connecting two clauses
- meaning ‘while’
- meaning ‘although’
- meaning ‘the way in which’
- meaning ‘because’
  • 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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