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As or like?

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.

Compare

As your father, Ill help you as


The speaker is the listeners father.
much as I can.

Like your father, Ill help you The speaker is not the father but wishes to act
as much as I can. in a similar way to the father.

We use like (but not as) to compare two things:

Shes got a headache like me.

Not: Shes got a headache as me.

Like the other students, he finds it a bit difficult to get to lectures early in the
morning.

Not: As the other students, he finds it

When we compare appearance or behaviour, we use like, not as:

That house looks like a castle.

Not: That house looks as a castle .

As is commonly used to talk about jobs:

He worked for a long time as a teacher in Africa.

Not: like a teacher in Africa .

The conjunctions as and like have the same meaning when used in
comparisons. Like is a little more informal.

Nobody understands him as I do.

Nobody understands him like I do.


As as a preposition

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. Most of us did.

Not: I worked like a waiter

[The Daily Telegraph is a British newspaper]

The Daily Telegraph appointed Trevor Grove as its Sunday editor.

Internet shopping is seen as a cheaper alternative to shopping on the high


street.

A sarong is essential holiday gear. It can be used as a beach towel, wrap,


dress or scarf and will take up no space in your bag.

Warning:

We dont use as + noun to mean similar to. We use like + noun:

Its almost like a real beach, but its actually artificial.

Not: Its almost as a real beach

I would like to have a white cat like the one in my dream.

Not: as the one in my dream

As as a conjunction

The conjunction as has several different meanings. We use as when one


event happens while another is in progress (during the time that). In this case
the verb after is often in the continuous form:

They arrived as we were leaving. (time conjunction meaning while or when)

We use as to connect a result with a cause:


I went to bed at 9 pm as I had a plane to catch at 6 am. (reason and result
meaning because)

We also use as to mean in the way that:

As the forecast predicted, the weather was dreadful for the whole of the
weekend.

She arrived early, as I expected.

The same as

We use as with the same to talk about identical things:

Your jacket is the same colour as mine.

See also:

Same, similar, identical

As: simultaneous changes

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.

Compare

When you get older, moving house One thing happens first and as a result the
gets harder. second thing is true.
As you get older, moving house
gets harder.
The two things happen at the same time.

Not: While you get older

Warning:

We dont use as alone to introduce examples. We say such as:

They gave them gifts such as flowers and fruit and sang a special welcome
song.

Not: gifts as flowers

Like

Like has a number of meanings and uses.

Like as a verb meaning enjoy

We use like to talk about things or people which we enjoy or feel positive
about:

like + noun phrase

I like Sarah but I dont like her brother much.

Do you like pasta?

She really likes the singing of Luciano Pavarotti.

like + -ing

I like swimming before breakfast.

He likes telling jokes.


like + to-infinitive

She likes to go and see her parents at the weekend.

I dont like to cycle in the dark.

He likes his friends to call him Hank.

Do you think she would like us to bring some chocolates or flowers?

like + wh-clause

I dont like what he did.

We liked how they cooked the fish.

Would like in offers and requests

We use would like or d like to offer something to someone in a polite way or to


ask them to do something politely (requests), or politely to say what we want.
We use the to-infinitive form of verbs that follow:

Would you like another coffee?

Would you like to watch a DVD?

[At a fast food restaurant]

A: How can I help you?


B: Id like a cheese burger and fries please.

[In an email to a company that has advertised a job]

Id like to enquire about the Sales Manager position which you have
advertised

Would you like to follow me, please? (Please follow me)


Like as a preposition meaning similar to

Like means similar to. We often use it with verbs of the senses such as look,
sound, feel, taste, seem:

My sister is like my mother. (My sister and my mother are similar)

I think this tastes like coconut.

That looks like Marcos car.

He seems like a nice man.

When we use like to mean similar to, we can put words and phrase such as a
bit, just, very, so and more before it to talk about the degree of similarity:

Its a bit like skiing but theres no snow.

Isnt that just like the bike we bought you for your birthday?

That smells very like garlic.

The car was more like a green than a blue colour.

Like as a conjunction

In informal contexts, we can use like as a conjunction instead of as. Traditional


grammar books consider this use of like incorrect:

Like any good cook book will tell you, dont let the milk boil. (or As any good
cook book )

Like as a suffix

We can use like as a suffix at the end of a noun to mean similar to:

There is something child-like about Marianne. She always seems so


innocent.
Like in spoken English

In informal speaking, you will hear like used very commonly. It has a number
of functions. It is important not to use these forms in formal writing such as
academic essays.

Filler

We can use like to fill in the silence when we need time to think about what to
say next or how to rephrase what we have just said:

I want to like I think we need to think carefully about it. Its like its
a very difficult decision for us to make.

Focusing attention

We can use like to bring attention to what we are going to say next. We do this
especially when talking about quantities and times:

There were like five hundred guests at the wedding. (like brings focus to the
large number of guests)

It wasnt till like 12:00 that I actually got to start on the project. (like brings
focus to how late it was)

Asking for an example (Like what?)

In speaking, we often use like what? to ask for an example:

A: Some really funny things happened on the last day of school.


B: Funny things? Like what?

It can also be used to ask a question, meaning similar to what?:

[talking about a new restaurant]

A: There was kangaroo steak on the menu. I decided to try it.


B: Really?
A: Yeah. It actually tasted good.
B: Like what?
A: I dont know. Like steak but softer.

Softening what has just been said

We can use like at the end of what we say to modify or soften what we have
just said especially if we are not sure if it was the right thing to say:

[A and B are talking about Bs holiday]

A: So did you buy anything there?


B: No. It was too expensive, like.

I hated the film. It was very violent, like.

Reported speech

It has become common in very informal speaking to use like as a reporting


verb. It can be used to report what someone said or what someone thought. It
is used especially by young people, and it makes what is reported sound more
dramatic:

Jason was like Im not going to Almas party because Chris is going to be
there and Im like hes so afraid of Chris. (in the first use of like, it means he
said, but in the second use it means I thought)

Saying something is like something else

We can use the structure it + be + like to introduce an example or say that


something is similar to something else:

Its like when you go to the airport and you keep thinking that you have
forgotten something important.

[a woman talking about her husband Bob]

Everyone is always saying hello to Bob. Its like being married to a superstar!

Be like or what is like?

We can use be like to ask for a description of someone or something (e.g.


their appearance, their character, their behaviour):
Whats your new apartment like?

Not: How is your new apartment like?

Be like or look like?

We use be like to talk about someones character or personality. We use look


like to talk about someones appearance:

A: Whats your new boss like?


B: Shes nice. Shes very professional.

Not: Shes like a very professional person .

A: What does your father look like?


B: Hes very like me but taller and older!

Compare

A: What is Martinas new


boyfriend like?
What is his personality like? Is he nice?
B: Hes really nice.

A: What does Martinas new


boyfriend look like? What is his appearance like? Is he
B: Hes tall, with blond hair. handsome?