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.

 

COMPARE:

    • 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:

LIKE

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

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)