English Grammar Pill: The Difference Between As and Like

As and Like“Ma, Shanthi, how do I use ‘As‘ and ‘Like‘ in a sentence? What is the difference?” asked Maurizio, my client during one of our Skype lessons recently.

An excellent question, Maurizio. The more I thought about it the more I realised that this question is often asked by English Language Learners.

So I decided that I would clarify the confusion over As and Like in this post. Let’s take a look at these at times confusing words.

 

LIKE = similar to, the same as. You cannot use as in this way

  • You have a huge house! It’s like a palace (not as a place)
  • You love romantic films, like me (not as me)
  • I love eating in the garden. It’s like being on holiday. (not as being)
  • It’s raining again! I hate weather like this (not as this)

In these sentences, like is a preposition, so it is followed by a noun ( like a palace), a pronoun (like me/this) or -ing ( like being)

Sometimes we can use like = for example

  • Some people, like my dentist, run half marathons once a week.

Note: We can also use such as = for example

  • Some people, such as my dentist, run half marathons once a week

 

Grammar Rules!

 

AS = in the same way as, or in the same condition as. We use as before the subject + verb

  • As I said at the meeting last week, I think we should revise our sales forecasts.
  • If you had done as I said, we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Note: we can use Like in the above examples in informal spoken English, NOT written English.

  • Like I said at the meeting last week, I think we should revise our sales forecasts.

Compare as and like in these sentences:

  • You should have done it as I showed you (or like I showed you – spoken)
  • You should have done it like this. (not as this)

As can also be a preposition, but the meaning is different to like. Let’s take a look:

  • As an English Language Trainer, I have many lessons to prepare. (As a trainer = in my position as a trainer)
  • Like my teaching colleagues, I have many lessons to prepare. ( Like my teaching colleagues = the same as my colleagues)

As (preposition) = in the position of, in the form of

  • A few years ago I worked as a financial adviser.
  • We haven’t got a separate office, so we use the fourth bedroom as an office.
  • London is wonderful as a city to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

 

To check that you’ve understood the difference, why not try this practice exercise out? Do let me know how you did.

I hope you found the explanations helpful. If you think that others might benefit from this clarification, please share this post with them. Also, if you’d like to receive my posts directly via email, why not subscribe to my blog?

Ciao for now.

Shanthi

 

Source: English Grammar in Use (Intermediate), Raymond Murphy (2004) Cambridge

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One thought on “English Grammar Pill: The Difference Between As and Like

  1. you did not make clear the difference between "as" and "as a". like i say , i am working as a english teacher or i am working as english teacher. Please guide me. thanks on said:

    Very nice!

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