B2 First: using as and like
There are several different ways to use as and like and they can be quite confusing (especially when both are possible). Read through the whole page or click on a link below to jump to a specific section for practice of a particular use.
- Doing something / thinking about something in a certain way (e.g. He's regarded as a genius)
- Roles and purposes (e.g. This can be used as a weapon)
- Comparisons (e.g. Mice are a bit like rats)
- Linking expressions with as and like (e.g. We watched the firefighters as they battled the blaze)
Like + noun: something is done in the same or a similar way.
You're behaving like a child.
Like many people, I worry about the environment.
As / Like + clause / adverb: something is done in the same or a similar way. Common adverbs here are usual, always, before, in previous years. Note that like is informal with this meaning, and some people argue that it's grammatically incorrect.
We're going to France again, as we did last year. (as + clause)
He's late, as usual. (as + adverb)
We're going to France again, like we did last year. (like + clause, informal)
He's late, like usual. (like + adverb, informal)
As + noun: something is thought of in this way (especially with passive forms after the verbs know / regard / see):
He's regarded as an excellent teacher.
Edgar Allan Poe is known as the father of horror stories.
I love him, but he only sees me as a friend.
Practice 1: open cloze (meaning "in the same way")
Imagine all the examples below are formal and choose the correct word (as or like) to complete the sentences.
Use as + noun if you are saying the exact role, purpose or job of something or someone.
My sister works as a scientist. (job)
I use this bedroom as my office. (purpose)
She went to the party dressed as a zombie. (role)
As your doctor, I have to tell you to stop drinking. (role)
If you use 'like' with the four verbs above, the meaning changes from 'in exactly this role' to 'in a similar way':
My sister's a scientist. She works like a horse (she works very hard, similar to a horse)
My daughter uses my house like a hotel (similar to a hotel, but she doesn't pay me!)
He was dressed like a tourist (he wore the kind of clothes a tourist would wear, but it wasn't his intention)
Like your doctor, I think you should stop drinking. (I'm not your doctor, but I agree with him)
Practice 2: open cloze (roles and purposes)
Choose the best word (as or like) to express the roles and purposes below. Do the examples mean something has exactly this function or just that it is similar?
Use like + noun to say A is similar to B, especially with be and verbs of senses (look, sound, feel, taste, smell).
Onions are a bit like garlic.
It looks like a spider.
Use the same (noun) as or as + adjective + as to say A is the same as B.
Onions are the same colour as garlic.
That spider's as big as a mouse!
Practice 3: open close (comparisons)
Choose the best word (as or like) to express the comparisons below. Do the examples mean something is the same or similar?
A. As = because / while / when
Use as to join two clauses, meaning because or while:
I couldn't answer as I didn't know hear what he'd said. (because)
I was thinking about you as I walked into work. (while)
Just as is used to mean at that moment:
Just as I got to the station, I realised I'd forgotten my ticket.
As is also used in several linking expressions with as ... as. You can read about and practise other expressions with as ... as here.
As long as you are safe, that's all that matters. (expression meaning 'if')
B. For example
Use both like and such as to mean for example:
Contact sports like boxing can be dangerous.
Contact sports such as boxing can be dangerous.
C. It seems to be true
To say something seems to be true, use as if/though + clause (the meaning is the same). It's common with verbs of senses (look, sound, feel, taste, smell) and with verbs such as seems. Some people also use like + clause, but it is informal (some people would say it is grammatically incorrect). You can read about and practise using as if and as though here.
He looks as if he's tired. (as if + clause)
He looks as though he's tired. (as though + clause)
He looks like he's tired. (like + clause = informal)