Like vs. As

English Grammar Rules

We generally use LIKE and AS to make comparisons.


LIKE

The structure of the sentence is usually: VERB + LIKE + NOUN / PRONOUN.

  • He speaks like a native speaker.
  • She looks like a supermodel.

AS

The structure of the sentence is usually: AS + SUBJECT + VERB.

  • Nobody sings as she does.
  • They went to the party as they were.

It is very common in American English to use LIKE instead of AS. However, it is generally considered informal to use it in this way.

  • We play football like champions do.

Another use of AS is to say what the role/function of a person/thing is.

  • He started work as a carpenter.
  • She used the tapestry as a decoration in her living room.

LIKE vs. AS

Be careful, in similar sentences that use LIKE and AS, the meanings of each sentence are very different. For example:

  • As your boss, I must warn you to be careful. (I am your boss.)
  • Like your boss, I must warn you to be careful. (I am not your boss, but he/she and I have similar attitudes.)

AS IF

In English we also use as if to make comparisons. However it has a few distinct characteristics to its use:

1. The verb after AS IF is always in the past subjunctive, no matter what tense the sentence is.

2. If the verb BE directly follows AS IF, we use were for all personal pronouns.

  • He looks as if he knew the answer.

(The verbs LOOKS indicates this sentence is in the present – but the verb after AS IF – knew - is in the past subjuntive).

  • She walks as if she were a supermodel.

(The verb after AS IF – be – has been changed to were and not was).

  • He boarded the airplane as if he were a seasoned traveller.
  • He spends money as if he owned a bank.


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Try our interactive game to practice the difference between Like and As.


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Last Updated: 29 August 2014
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