Like and as

Like = ‘similar to’, ‘the same as’.

  • What a beautiful house! It’s like a palace, (not as a palace)
  • ‘What does Sandra do?’   ‘She’s a teacher, like me.’ (not as me)
  • Be careful! The floor has been polished. It’s like walking on ice. (not as walking)
  • It’s raining again. I hate weather like this, (not as this)

In these sentences, like is a preposition.
So it is followed by a noun (like a palace), a pronoun (like me / like this) or -ing (like walking).

You can also say ‘… like (somebody/something) doing something’:

  • ‘What’s that noise? ‘It sounds like a baby crying.”

Sometimes like = for example:

  • Some sports, like motor-racing, can be dangerous.

You can also use such as (= for example):

  • Some sports, such as motor-racing, can be dangerous.

As = in the same way as, or in the same condition as.

We use as before subject + verb:

  • I didn’t move anything. I left everything as it was.
  • You should have done it as I showed you.

Like is also possible in informal spoken English:

  • I left everything like it was.

Compare as and like:

  • You should have done it as I showed you. (or like I showed you)
  • You should have done it like this, (not as this)

Note that we say as usual / as always:

  • You’re late as usual.
  • As always, Nick was the first to complain.

Sometimes as (+ subject + verb) has other meanings.

For example, after do:

  • You can do as you like. (= do what you like)
  • They did as they promised. (= They did what they promised.)

We also say as you know / as I said / as she expected / as I thought etc. :

  • As you know, it’s Emma’s birthday next week. (= you know this already)
  • Andy failed his driving test, as he expected. (= he expected this before)

Like is not usual in these expressions, except with say (like I said):

  • □As I said yesterday, I’m sure we can solve the problem,   or Like I said yesterday …

As can also be a preposition, but the meaning is different from like.

  • Sue Casey is the manager of a company.
    As the manager, she has to make many important decisions.
    (As the manager = in her position as the manager)
  • Mary Stone is the assistant manager.
    Like the manager (Sue Casey), she also has to make important decisions.
    (Like the manager = similar to the manager.)

As (preposition) = in the position of, in the form of etc. :

  • A few years ago I worked as a taxi driver, (not like a taxi driver)
  • We haven’t got a car, so we use the garage as a workshop.
  • Many words, for example ‘work’ and ‘rain’, can be used as verbs or nouns.
  • London is fine as a place to visit, but I wouldn’t like to live there.
  • The news of the tragedy came as a great shock.