Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (2023)

What is the difference?


Many students of English have trouble knowing when to use like and when to use as. What is the difference between these two words?

The rule about like and as has several different parts. That's why like and as can be difficult for students to use properly. Understanding the rule is absolutely essential, because if you mix up the words it's considered quite a big mistake. Most of the time, anyway.

Technically, like and as are not interchangeable. This means that in some situations you have to use one, and in some situations you need to use the other. However, there is one part of the rule that is often broken by native English speakers when they talk. How confusing!

Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (1)

Let's look at some examples to help you understand the difference.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (2)

(Video) Like vs As - English In A Minute


Like

Like, of course, is normally a verb that means to enjoy. However, this is not the part of the rule that students find difficult!

In addition to its use as a verb, grammatically, the word like can be a preposition. This means it is a word that connects two nouns. Like means that two things are similar. For example, we can say, "Kelly is like her mother" and "American football is like rugby".

The first sentence means that Kelly and her mother are similar, while the second sentence means that American football is similar to rugby. The word likewise comes from this definition of like. Likewise is an adverb that means in the same way.

We can modify like with words such as"very,""just," "extremely,""quite" and other adverbs of degree if we want to be more specific. The sentence"Kelly is just like her mother" means that Kelly is extremely similar to her mother. It is also common to use like in collocations such as look like, sound like, feel like, smell like and seem like. These expressions mean look similar to, sound similar to, feel similar to, etc.

Now let's move on to the next part of the rule.

Like is also used to introduce examples. We say,"Spain is famous for foods like paella, tapas and ham" because paella, tapas and ham are examples of famous Spanish foods. Students sometimes make sentences such as, "Spain is famous for foods as paella, tapas and ham," but this is incorrect.

However, when we use like to introduce examples it is also possible to use such as. So, we can make the sentence,"Spain is famous for foods such as paella, tapas and ham" and it means the same as using like.


Examples:

  1. The weather in Madrid is like that in New York.
    (The weather in New York and Madrid are similar.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (3)
    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (4)

  2. He looks like his sister.
    (He and his sister look similar to each other.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (5)

  3. Did you hear that? It sounded like a knock at the door.
    (Did someone knock? I thought I heard a noise similar to knocking.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (6)

    (Video) English Grammar: Comparing with LIKE & AS

  4. What are you cooking? It smells like chicken.
    (The food you are cooking smells similar to chicken.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (7)

  5. Children tend to enjoy sweets like ice cream and cakes.
    (Ice cream and cakes are examples of sweets that are popular with children.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (8)

  6. High school students study subjects like molecular biology, calculus and history.
    (Examples of subjects that high school students learn are molecular biology, calculus and history.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (9)

As

As is also used to express similarity, but in a different way from like. Grammatically, the word as is a conjunction. This means that as connects parts of sentences, or clauses (a combination of a noun and a verb). An example of this point is the sentence, "In Colombia people speak Spanish, as they do in Peru. "As is required here because the combination"they do" is a clause. A similar example is the sentence,"Spinach is very healthy, as most green vegetables are. "As is needed because"green vegetables are" is also a clause.

Technically, in sentences like the ones above it is not possible to use like. However, in spoken English, many people use like anyway. They are breaking the rule, but it happens so often that sometimes people do not even notice! As a non-native English speaker, in formal situations you should always use as. In informal situations, both like and as are OK. In writing, you should always use as.

A second use of as is to talk about roles. Examples of roles are characteristics like vegetarian, Catholic, mother, father, student, French person, man and woman. You can think of a role as something important about you. When we describe a person's role, we have to use as, not like. This use comes up most frequently with jobs. For example, you should say,"I work as a secretary," not" I work like a secretary."

Sometimes, both like and as are possible, but the meaning of the sentence changes depending on what word you choose. If I say"As your mother, I believe…" it means that the person is really your mother. (Being a mother is her role.) If I say"Like your mother, I believe…" it means that the person is not your mother, but is similar to your mother in that she shares her opinion.

A final use of as is to mean because. For example, you can make the sentence"I am not going out tonight, as it's very late." Keep in mind that it is only possible to use as as a replacement for because if the speaker is sharing information that is obvious or already known to the listener.


Examples:

  1. Students in my school get a lot of homework, as they do in most schools.
    (Students in my school get a lot of homework, similar to students in other schools.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (10)

  2. The meeting started at 10am, as we agreed.
    (The meeting began at 10am, which was the time that we decided.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (11)

    (Video) Like vs. As: What's The Difference?

  3. I'm going to sleep a lot tonight, as I'm very tired.
    (I'm going to sleep a lot tonight because I'm very tired.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (12)

  4. I like working as a teacher.
    (I like being a teacher.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (13)

  5. As your friend, let me give you some advice.
    (I'm going to give you this advice because I am your friend.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (14)

  6. As a vegetarian, I don't eat meat. (I don't eat meat because I'm a vegetarian.)

    Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (15)


A Story to Practice Like vs. As

Lucy and Isabel are sisters. They look a lot like each other and they sound like each other too. They even like doing similar things, like riding their bicycles and reading magazines. As a result of this, people sometimes mix them up. But Lucy and Isabel don't mind, as they know people can't really help it.

The main difference between the two sisters is their jobs. Lucy works as a doctor whereas Isabel works as a dentist. In her job, Lucy does things like prescribe medicine, take blood and check patients' temperatures. She also takes care of people, which she likes to do. Isabel takes care of people too, but mostly in her job she does things like clean teeth and help people who need braces or have cavities.

When Isabel needs a doctor, she visits Lucy. Likewise, when Lucy needs a dentist, she visits Isabel. The two sisters like visiting each other even when they are not sick, as spending time together makes them feel better. Who wouldn't like visiting someone who you are so much like?

Like vs. As - What Is the Difference? (with Illustrations and Examples) (16)


Quiz

Answer the following 10 questions and then check your answers. Each question is worth 10 points.

Part 1:

  1. In which situations do we use like?
    1. To explain people's jobs
    2. When we want to speak formally
    3. To connect parts of sentences
    4. When two nouns are similar in some way
  2. In which situations do we use as?
    1. To compare nouns
    2. In expressions with look and sound
    3. To speak about jobs and roles
    4. To introduce examples
  3. Which sentence is written correctly?
    1. Paris has many famous monuments, like the Eiffel Tower.
    2. Foods as broccoli, lentils and sardines have a lot of iron.
    3. My sister works like a doctor.
    4. I don't look as my brother or sister.
  4. Which of the following is written incorrectly?
    1. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, like today.
    2. The restaurant serves traditional dishes, as steak.
    3. I always wanted to work as a journalist.
    4. That sounds like a good idea.

Part 2:

  1. __________ a child, I used to spend my holidays in a small seaside town.
    1. Like
    2. As
    3. Both
    4. Neither
  2. Toys __________ kites and marbles are both fun and inexpensive.
    1. like
    2. as
    3. both
    4. neither
  3. The Reina Sofía museum has many famous paintings, __________ Guernica.
    1. as or such as
    2. as or like
    3. like or such as
    4. like, as or such as
  4. __________ a manager, my job is to do things __________ make decisions and go to meetings.
    1. Like; as
    2. As; like
    3. Like; like
    4. As; as
  5. __________ you probably know, football is the most popular sport in the world.
    1. Neither like nor as is possible in this example
    2. Both like and as mean the same in this example
    3. Like for formal settings and as for informal
    4. As for formal settings and like for informal
  6. __________ a nurse, my job is to take care of people.
    1. As if you are really a nurse
    2. Like if you are really a nurse
    3. As if you are similar to a nurse
    4. Both like and as mean the same in this example

(Video) Comparing with As and Like - Learn English Grammar

Answer Key

Part 1: 1. D | 2. C | 3. A | 4. B

Part 2: 1. B | 2. A | 3. C | 4. B| 5. D | 6. A


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FAQs

What is the difference between like and as in Example? ›

In formal writing, like is used as a preposition, telling where, when or how the noun in the sentence is doing whatever it may be doing. As is used as a conjunction, joining two clauses.

How do you use like as for example? ›

1: 'Like' can be used to give examples. It means the same as 'for example' and is usually followed by nouns or pronouns. I love big cats, like lions.
...
Like
  1. She looks like her mother.
  2. It looks like rain.
  3. That sounds like a car.
  4. The kitchen smells like lemons.

What is like example? ›

One of the most common ways that you'll hear the word “like” is as a verb – “to like”. This is a verb used to express the fact that you enjoy something, and it can be used just like many other verbs in English. For example: “I like walking to work, but she liked to drive instead.” Nice and simple!

Which is correct as or like this? ›

Use like for the meaning similar to, and use as for the meaning same as. Compare these examples: You look like your sister. (You look similar to your sister.)

What's difference between like and as? ›

The prepositions as and like have different meanings. As + noun means 'in the role of', like + noun means 'similar to' or 'in the same way as'. As your father, I'll help you as much as I can. The speaker is the listener's father.

What is like and as? ›

'Like' is a term that we can use to denote some similarity in quality or characteristic or the way something is done. It can also be used to give examples or to indicate that we admire something. Conversely, 'As' is used to refer to 'in the same manner'. It also describes the function, character, or job of a person.

What uses words like or as? ›

A simile is a figure of speech in which two unrelated things are compared to each other specifically with the use of the words like or as.

Where do we use as? ›

We use as to introduce two events happening at the same time. After as with this meaning, we usually use a simple (rather than continuous) form of the verb: As the show increases in popularity, more and more tickets are sold daily. When you get older, moving house gets harder.

What is the difference between simile with as As and like? ›

A simile says that one thing "is like" or "is as … as" another thing. A metaphor says that one thing "is" another thing. Metaphors do not use the words "like" or "as" in their comparisons.

What is the sentence of as? ›

[M] [T] She's as busy as Tom. [M] [T] We sang as we walked. [M] [T] He acted as our guide. [M] [T] He runs as fast as you.

Is it like or for example? ›

Instead of using like to introduce an example, use another expression, such as for example: For example, one incredible experience I had in Taiwan was going to Taroko Gorge. Sometimes for example sounds better when it's used in the middle of the sentence, after the example itself has been named.

Would you like to examples? ›

used when offering something or inviting someone: Would you like a drink? Would you like to join us for dinner tonight?

Is it like you or as you? ›

"Like" is usually used for people. "Like" is usually followed by a noun or gerund, "as" is followed by a subject and verb. If we want to use "as" we will say "such as." This is why number two is not correct.

What is comparing two things using like or as? ›

A simile is a comparison between two things using the word “like” or the word “as.” Example: It is as hot as the sun in here! My brother eats like a pig. Instead of saying that one thing is the other, a simile says that one thing is like another.

What is an example of as? ›

As is defined as the same amount and is used to show comparison. An example of as is a tree equal in height to a house. An example of as is giving apples and oranges for examples of types of fruits. An example of as is having the same amount of hunger that a horse does.

What is meaning of AS? ›

As and like are prepositions or conjunctions. The prepositions as and like have different meanings. As + noun means 'in the role of', like + noun means 'similar to' or 'in the same way as'. … As if and as though.

What tense is used with AS? ›

Past: "While" and "as" are used in the past to express an action that was occurring at the moment when something important happened. "While" and "as" are also used to express two actions that were happening at the same moment in the past.

Why is as such used? ›

You use as such after a noun to indicate that you are considering that thing on its own, separately from other things or factors.

What are 10 examples of similes? ›

Examples of Similes
  • As slow as a sloth.
  • As busy as a bee.
  • As innocent as a lamb.
  • As proud as a peacock.
  • As fast as a cheetah.
  • As blind as a bat.
  • As bold as brass.
  • As cold as ice.

What type of word is as as? ›

AS (adverb, conjunction, preposition) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary.

Is as much as example? ›

He likes caramel as much as he likes fudge. He earns nearly as much as she does. As much as I dislike him, I still voted for him.

Can a sentence starts with AS? ›

We often use as and since clauses at the beginning of the sentence. We use a comma after the as- or since- clause: Since everything can be done from home with computers and telephones, there's no need to dress up for work any more. As everyone already knows each other, there's no need for introductions.

Would you like to 10 sentences? ›

How to use Would-like in a sentence
  • I would like to travel there. ...
  • Perhaps he would like me to stay in Houston. ...
  • I would like something for a special lady. ...
  • Hopefully Alex would like her choice. ...
  • Why don't you tell me what you would like to do? ...
  • As I started to say, I would like to be left alone.

What would you like meaning? ›

phrase. DEFINITIONS1. used for offering something to someone or inviting them to do something. Would you like some cake? What would you like for your birthday?

Would like to grammar explanation? ›

“Would like” is a polite way to say “I want” in English. For example: “I want to buy a ticket” is impolite because “I want” sounds selfish and arrogant. “I would like to buy a ticket please” is polite and friendly.

What is the difference between as you like and as you wish? ›

As you wish and as you like mean the same. However, be careful with the way you actually say it because, depending on your tone of voice, it is also a way to show you disapprove. – I want to stay up tonight because I really want to watch that film. – As you wish.

What does it mean when someone says as you like? ›

Prepositional phrase

as you like. (colloquial) To any extent or degree. quotations ▼

Is it correct to say I like Apple? ›

Apple is a countable noun. You can have two or three or ten apples. So the correct version is "I like apples." The same is true for other countable nouns.

Where can I use as? ›

We use as with a noun to refer to the role or purpose of a person or thing: I worked as a waiter when I was a student.

What does mean as as? ›

Used with an adjective or adverb to show similarity or equality of one thing with another. The as . . . as construction appears in numerous similes, including the idioms as rich as Croesus, as big as life, as good as done.

What is known as as? ›

as known or named at another time or place. synonyms: a.k.a., alias.

What comes after as as? ›

The second as can act as a preposition or conjunction. If it is used as a preposition, it will be followed by a noun or pronoun. If it is used as a conjunction, it will be followed by a clause.

Which preposition is used with AS? ›

You can use both as and like to say that things are similar. Like is a preposition and is used before nouns and pronouns:He has blue eyes like me. As is a conjunction and an adverb and is used before a clause, another adverb, or a phrase beginning with a preposition:She enjoys all kinds of music, as do I.

What is like used as? ›

In English, the word like has a very flexible range of uses, ranging from conventional to non-standard. It can be used as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition, particle, conjunction, hedge, filler, and quotative.

Can you start a sentence with as? ›

Answer and Explanation:

Yes, you can start a sentence with the word 'as. ' Doing so is common when 'as' is being used as a preposition or a conjunction.

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