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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


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:

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.
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!
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.
*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 an adverb meaning ‘just like’
  • She was extremely polite, as always.
  • The ‘h’ in ‘heir’ is silent, as in ‘hour’.
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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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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