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The simplest way of looking at it is to look for phrases with similar meaning, for example: My Dad works as an engineer. This means, that my dad IS an engineer, it is his real job and AS means “in the role of”. But, in contrast, take a look at this example: My brother works like a teacher. This has a contrasting meaning, it means that my brother does a job that is something like a teacher, but he IS NOT in fact a teacher. LIKE means “similar to”.
- They can both be used as a preposition
- They can both be used as a conjunction
- In many languages, Spanish for example, they can translate into the same word “como”.
An alternative way of looking at this is to memorize lots of fixed expressions that include AS or LIKE.
Collocations and fixed expressions with AS:
- As long as = provided that
- As far as = to this extent
- As a result = consequently, as a consequence
- As part of = an element of
- Such as = for example
- As a matter of fact = in reality, in fact
- As soon as = no sooner
- As well as = as long as
- The same as = equal to
- As if/ though = in such a way that
Collocations with LIKE:
- Feel like = fancy, be up for
- Look like = have a similar appearance to
- A bit like = similar to
- Just like = the same as
- Rather like = similar to
- Like before = similar to the past
- Sound like = sound in a similar way to
- Act like = behave in a similar way to
AS… AS can also be used as a form of comparative to show similarity, here are multiple examples of this:
- as blind as a bat
- as bright as a button
- as busy as a bee
- as easy as pie
- as fat as a pig
- as good as gold
- as good as new
- as high as a kite
- as hot as fire
- as quick as a flash
- as regular as a clockwork
- as sick as a dog
- as sober as a judge
- as steady as a rock
- as sure as hell
- as thick as thieves
- as ugly as sin
- as white as a ghost
You need to understand that as is used as a preposition and if a common part of word patterns; here are various examples of this:
AS – the preposition: Seen as = I enjoy being seen as a role model.
Used as = This room is usually used as the main office for meetings
Appointed as = The newbie has been appointed as team leader.
LIKE – the preposition:
Be like = He is like his mother in many ways
Taste like = Seafood taste like garbage
Look like = I look like my chubby twin brother
AS the conjunction is a type of linking word that links phrases or clauses together; here are some examples of this:
AS – the conjunction:
AS = because, since, seeing that
AS = while, whilst, in the meantime
LIKE – the conjunction:
LIKE (at the beginning of a phrase) = Like many athletes before him, he has had to train a lot to achieve his success.
LIKE can also be used as a linking word or connector:
LIKE = for example, for instance, such as I enjoy many sports activities in my free time, like, running, swimming and cycling.
The only way to improve the use of AS and LIKE is to practice and to learn from your own mistakes.