Vocabulary | Like or As?

Like or as?

Like or as? Which one should you use? These words can be confusing. Although they may share some meanings, they are used differently. As is normally used as a conjunction (followed by a clause containing a subject and a verb). Sometimes, it may also be used as a preposition or as an adverb. Like, however, is normally used as a preposition (followed by a noun or a pronoun). In informal English, like is also used as a conjunction in spite of being considered incorrect by some people.

Here is a full explanation of the different uses of like and as.


1. Conjunction

As is mainly used as a conjunction, followed by a clause containing a subject and a verb.

As a conjunction, as may be used in different ways:

A. To indicate that something happens during the time when something is taking place. In this context 'as' has the same meaning as while.

  • She looked up as he entered the room.
  • He found the key as he was walking home.
  • As they were leaving, the phone rang.

B. To indicate comparison.

  • She is so stubborn as her father was.
  • He is an artist, as most of his family are

C. To indicate cause and effect (having the same meaning as 'since' or 'because'):

  • He was so tired as he had been working all day long.
  • He was fired as he used to come to work late.
  • She started crying as he blamed her for what had happened to her son.

D. Having the same meaning as though

  • Poor as she was, she refused our help.
  • Questionable as it seemed, he decided to proceed with the deal.

E. As if, and as though are also followed by clauses.

  • He laughed as though he saw something funny.
  • He behaved as if he knew nothing.
  • They looked as though they had been quarreling.

2. Preposition:

As can be also used as a preposition to talk about a job or function. 

  • I got a job as a hotel manager for ten years
  • He used his mobile as Wi-Fi hotspot.

3. Adverb

As may be used as an adverb to indicate comparisons as in the structure:

as + adjective + as

  • She isn't as nice as her sister.
  • He doesn't work as hard as he should.


1. Like is a preposition and is normally followed by a noun or a pronoun to indicate comparisons:

  • He is built like a tank.
  • She's been working like a dog.
  • When he gets into a library, he's like a child in a sweet shop.
  • My sister is very much like me.
  • I look just like my father.

2. Like may be used as a conjunction in informal English.

  • You don't know him like I do (informal)
  • You don't know him as I do (formal)

Using 'like' as a conjunction is considered 'incorrect' or 'informal' by some people, but you will certainly hear it a lot.

3. Like may be used in the expressions: feel like and look like. To feel like means to have an inclination or desire for. To look like means to seem or to appear.

  • I feel like staying in bed all day.
  • I don't feel like going to the gym
  • It looks like snow.
  • They look like they have been having fun.

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