Posted by: a2cristina | February 13, 2009



We can use like or as to say that things are similar.

1. Like (preposition)

Like is similar to a preposition. We use it before a noun or pronoun.

Like + noun / pronoun

You look like your sister. (NOT … as your sister.)

He ran like the wind.

Like his brother, he is a vegetarian.

She’s dressed just like me.

We can use very, quite and other adverbs of degree to modify like.

He’s very like his father.

She looks a bit like Queen Victoria.

We can use like to give examples:

She’s good at scientific subjects, like mathematics.

(NOT …as-mathematics.)

In mountainous countries, like Peru,…

2. As (conjunction)

As is a conjunction. We use it before a clause, and before an expression beginning with a preposition.

as + clause

as + preposition phrase

Nobody knows her as I do.

We often drink tea with the meal, as they do in China.

In 1939, as in 1914, everybody seemed to want war.

On Friday, as on Tuesday, the meeting will be at 8.30.

3. Informal use of like

In informal English like is often used as a conjunction instead of as. This is very common in American English. It is not generally considered correct in a formal style.

Nobody loves you like I do.

You look exactly like your mother did when she was 20.

4. As with inverted word order

In a very formal style, as is sometimes followed by auxiliary verb + subject.

She was a Catholic, as were most of her friends.

He believed, as did all his family, that the king was their supreme lord.

And as can sometimes replace it as the subject of a clause (rather like the relative pronoun which), especially before happen and verbs with similar meanings.

An earthquake can destroy one part of a city while leaving other parts untouched, as happened in Mexico in /986. (NOT …as-it happened …)

5. As you know etc.

Some expressions beginning with as are used to introduce facts which are ‘common ground’, i.e. known to both speaker / writer and listener / reader. Examples are as you know, as we agreed, as you suggested.

As you know, next Tuesday’s meeting has been cancelled.

I am sending you the bill for the repairs, as we agreed.

There are some passive expressions of this kind – for example as is well known; as was agreed. Note that there is no subject it after as in these expressions.

As is well known, more people get colds in wet weather.

(NOT As it is-well-known …)

I am sending you the bill, as was agreed. (NOT as-it was agreed)

6. Comparison with as and like after negatives

After a negative clause, a comparison with as or like usually refers only to the positive part.

I don’t smoke, like Jane. (Jane smokes.)

I am not a Conservative, like Joe. (Joe is a Conservative.)

I am no orator, as Brutus is. (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)

Before a negative clause, the comparison refers to the whole clause. Like Mary, I don’t smoke. (Mary doesn’t smoke.)

7. Function or role: as used as a preposition

Another use of as is to say what function or role a person or thing has – what jobs people do, what purposes things are used for, what category they belong to, etc. In this case, as is used like a preposition, before a noun.

He worked as a waiter for two years. (NOT …-like-a-waiter.)

Please don’t use that knife as a screwdriver.

A crocodile starts life as an egg.

Compare this use of as with like.

As your brother, I must warn you to be careful. (1 am your brother.) Like your brother, I must warn you to be careful.

(I am not your brother, but he and I have similar attitudes.)


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