“Love is like a flower. You’ve got to let it grow.”

John Lennon

 

There’s often great confusion between these words. Today, let’s explore them in more details to help you know better which one to choose!

 

Uses of LIKE

Like = similar to, the same as

See these examples:

  • You look great in this picture. You look like a model.
  • You can’t talk to him, he won’t listen. It’s like talking to a wall.
  • She enjoys reading poetry, like
  • It’s times like these that make you learn the big lessons in life.

Note that you can’t use “as” in this case.

 

Like = for example, such as

Examples:

  • Some languages, like (or such as) Chinese and Russian, have a very different communication code.
  • My favorite philosophers, like (or such as) Nietzsche and Sartre, are existentialists.

 

Uses of AS

As = has the same meaning as “like” in the sense of “similar to”, but it’s used every time a subject + verb is the grammar structure that follows.

“Like” can’t be used before a subject + verb.

See these examples:

  • Do as I say, not as I do.
  • They arrived at 9, just as they had
  • She enjoys reading poetry, as I do.
  • Mary got a new cell phone for Christmas, as she expected.

 

Compare “like” and “as” in these sentences:

  • We should have written the letter like this. (like + pronoun/noun)
  • We should have written the letter as Mary told (as + subject + verb)
  • She enjoys reading poetry, like me. (like + pronoun/noun)
  • She enjoys reading poetry, as I do. (as + subject + verb)

 

When we mean “in the position of”, “in the form of”, we use “as” (not “like”).

Examples:

  • I used to work as a salesperson. (= “in the position of” a salesperson)
  • The news of his arrival came as a great surprise. (= “in the form of” a great surprise)

 

Despite any rules, we say: as usual / as always:

  • He’s funny as always.
  • He’s funny as usual.

 

Quick exercise:

Complete the following sentences with “like” or “as”:

  1. Why didn’t you explain it to her ______ I had explained it to you?
  2. She sings ________ a bird.
  3. He dances so well. I wish I could dance _______ him.
  4. American coffee isn’t _______ Brazilian coffee. It’s a lot weaker.
  5. I have been working ________ a waitress for three years now.
  6. He said the same old things, _______ usual.
  7. My hands are so cold. They’re ________ ice.
  8. ________ her sister, she plays the piano very well.
  9. I’m not _______ you, I’m different from you.
  10. She didn’t need it _______ I thought.

 

 

 

Answers:

  1. as
  2. like
  3. like
  4. like
  5. as
  6. as
  7. like
  8. like
  9. like
  10. as

 

See you!

Oldcastle School of English

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