Grammar-QuizzesClausesComparative Clauses › Like/As

Like vs. As

Express description or manner

best friends
 

My friend is a lot like me. Often, he thinks the same way as I do. We often think of ideas at the same time. Some people say that he sounds like me when we are talking on the phone. We have known each other so long that I think of him as a brother.

I have a brother, but he is not like me at all. He is as smart as a fox, but he is not very easy to talk to.  Talking to him is like talking to a wall. He behaves as if I were not there. For this reason, I prefer spending time with my friend.

 

Like vs. As—expressing description

LIKE –DESCRIPTION

Like expresses "of the same form, appearance, kind or character". It mostly occurs with "be" or a static verb. Like is complemented (completed) by words that express a comparative description; together they form a prepositional phrase, which completes the meaning of the subject and predicate.

LIKE + NOUN PHRASE 

My friend is like me.  [like me = prep phrase]

My friend is like a brother(brother-like, brotherly)  

He is smart like a fox. (modifies smart)   

He acts like a brother to me.

He acts more like a brother than like a friend.  (more…than)

He looks very like me. somewhat, quite, completely (degree adv)

LIKE + GERUND CLAUSE 

Talking to him is like talking to a wall. 

 

AS –DESCRIPTION

As is not typically used to express a description. The exception is in as…as or same…as expressions. Some archaic or Biblical usage exists  with as and "be".                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

AS + NOUN PHRASE  (NOT USED)

——— 

*My friend is as me. (*not used)

~He is as a brother to me. (archaic)

——— 

——— 

Except: He is as smart as a fox(See as…as comparison.)

AS + GERUND CLAUSE

~Talking to him is as if talking to a wall. (as if/though)

 

*Not used / ~Borderline acceptable

archaic (Adj) – old usage, biblical usage

complement – words that are necessary to complete the meaning, for example,   *My friend is like. (incomplete)  My friend is like me. (complete because "me" completes "like",  or we could also say that "like me" completes "My friend is".

static verb (stative verb) — act, appear, become, look, seem, etc.

 

 

Like vs. As—expressing manner

 
LIKE–MANNER

Like may be used to express "in the manner". In traditional grammar, it is followed by a noun phrase [like + NP].  That is, using like + clause is considered informal. However, language usage dating back to the14th century and current usage does not support this rule. In linguistic description, like is a preposition that occurs with a noun, noun phrase or a clause.

LIKE + NOUN PHRASE

¹My friend speaks like me.   (like + N [pronoun])

¹He speaks like a politician.  (like + NP)

LIKE + CLAUSE

¹My friend thinks like I do.  (like + shorthened clause)

¹He treats me like we are bothers. "as if"

¹He treats me like he has known me all my life. "as if"

LIKE + PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

———

AS –MANNER

As expresses "in the manner". In traditional grammar, as is a conjunction which takes a clause as its complement.  In linguistic analysis, as is a connective preposition that mainly accepts a clause or prep phrase as its complement. Note the verb in the main clause is dynamic, and the verb in the clause after as is shortened to the auxiliary or just the subject.

AS + NOUN PHRASE   (NOT USED)

*My friend speaks as me.   (like + NP)

~He speaks as a brother to me. (archaic)

AS + TRUNCATED CLAUSE

My friend thinks as *I / I do.   (as + shortened clause)

He acts more as a brother / as a brother does. 

They speak as politicians do.  

AS + PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

²He treats me as if he had known me all my life.  (if=connective prep.)

²We behave as though we were two brothers. (though=connective prep.)

 

*Not used / ~Borderline acceptable

¹This grammar usage is in transition. Read "Grammarian Opinions" in Grammar Notes below.

²as if or as though (PP) — is a double preposition that expresses comparison (as) and manner   It is as if he were king. → It is in a manner similar to the king.

archaic (Adj) – old usage, biblical usage

as…as — is a paired expression that places two items in equal status.  as "equally" (adverb) — as (preposition)

NP — noun phrase

reduced clause – also called "truncated" when only the auxiliary verb is retained from the complete verb.

For the kinds of structures that can follow a preposition, see: Preposition Uses and Prepositional Complements.

For contextual use, see:  Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). Brigham Young U, 2013, corpus.byu.edu/coca.

For opinions of various grammarians, see Grammar Notes below:  Fowler "like" 458; Garner "Like as a conjunction" 512; Huddleston 13 5§6.2; and Swan "like and as: similarity, function" 74.3, 326.

 

 

 

 

 

Like

Additional Meanings

 

 

Like — other meanings

VARIANT MEANING EXAMPLES

OF THE SAME FORM

I haven't seen a like model.   We collect trains, cars, buses and like models.  (Adj)

OF THE SAME FORM

I haven't seen its like.    We collect model t trains, cars, buses and their like. (N)

CHARACTERISTIC

It would be like him to forget my birthday. (PP)

SIMILAR OR COMPARABLE

There is nothing like a tall cold drink. (PP)

EXAMPLE

You could take up a hobby, like fishing, hiking or cycling. (PP)

SIMILAR OR COMPARABLE

He was a hippie-like guy with a tie-dye T-shirt.  "hippy-ish" (Adj)

INCLINED 

Do you feel like going to a movie?  (idiom–PP) 

PROMISE / INDICATIVE

It (the sky) looks like rain today.  (idiom–PP) 

REQUEST-PREFER

I'd like you to come with us.   (idiom–"would prefer") 

SUIT YOUR PREFERENCE

You can come or you can go as you like.   (idiom–P)) 

Adj – adjective; Adv – adverb;   N – noun; P – preposition; PP – prepositional phrase

 

 

 

Like – Informal Usage

ATTENTION GETTER  (interjection)

Like, has anyone seen my mobile phone lying around?

HESITATOR (uh.. or well...)

We were more... like... borrowing his car.

INTRODUCE REPORTED SPEECH

He's like, "You're totally wrong, " and I'm like, "No, way!" 

AN EQUAL   (idiom)

We haven't seen the likes of him before.

AS IF

I felt like I could stay there forever. "in my imagination" 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As

Additional Meanings

 

 

As – other meanings

VARIANT MEANING EXAMPLES

EXAMPLE

Some flowers, as the rose, require a lot of care.   (PP)

CONSIDERED TO BE

We view the church and state as two separate entities.    (PP)

IN THE MANNER

He paid for the room and dinner as agreed. "as we had agreed"      (PP)

AT THE TIME

Please pay as you leave.  (PP)

WITH THE PURPOSE

The speaker spoke so convincingly as to rally everyone to unite.  (PP)

SINCE / BECAUSE

As you are up, will you please get me a glass of water. (PP)

THOUGH

Smart as he may be, he forgot to consider his own weaknesses.  (PP)

IN THE MANNER

I have had the same problem as you have. (PP)

TO THE EXTENT (idiom)

As far as I know, we still aren't done yet. (Adv—PP)

WHILE   (idiom)

As long as he is here, we'll never have peace! (Adv—PP)

IN ITS CURRENT CONDITION, non-negotiable, no-guarantee condition

I bought the car as is.  (PP)

ALSO (idiom)

They are resourceful, intelligent as well as compassionate.  (Adv—PP)

IN RESPECT TO (idiom)

As for traveling to the war-zone, I wouldn't advise it.  (Double PP)

BEGINNING / ENDING (idiom)

As of  April 1st, we are no longer accepting credit cards.   (Double PP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

He was like "I'm so out here." (informal use)  

He looks like he needs a place to rest.  (informal use)  

*He look likes a tired old dog. 

SOLUTION

He said, "I'm leaving."   or He said, "I've had enough!" 

He looks as if he needs a place to rest.  (formal usage) 

He looks like a tired old dog. look= verb, like = preposition

A  verb (not a preposition) can take 3rd person singular form.

 

Solution - lightbulb Pop-Q "Like/ As" and Pop-Q Looks like

 

 

 

 

► Show Grammar Notes, Opinions and Resources ▼ Hide Grammar Notes

Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Description

 

Traditional and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION

Traditional grammar prescribes:

like is followed by a noun or noun phrase.

He is like his father.   (preposition)

as is followed a a clause with a verb.

He behaves like his father his father does.  (adverbial conjunction)

Controversial Advertisement.

"Winston tastes good like a cigarette should."

Grammar teachers: it should be 'as' not 'like'.

LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

Linguistic description includes as and like in the category Preposition.

She went to the same school as I  / me*.  (informal)   (Huddleston 460)

As in comparative constructions: (13 5§5)

  1. As you know, we have a lot to do yet.  [adjunct of comparison]
  2. We works as he is supposed to. [manner] (1149)
  3. This looks as it is supposed to. [predicative]
  4. His work as we understand is not finished. [dependent of nominal]

"Like occurs with a comparative sense in a wide range of constructions." (13 5§6)

John is very like his father.  [adjective]  "resemble"

John is a good worker like his father.  [preposition] "in the manner"  (7 §2.2)

John is behaving like an ass. [manner complement]

Like + finite clause: like in competition with as (7 §5.6.2)

John talks like his father talks. [comparative clause]

John mimics his father like you might see in a comedy routine.

It looked like he was talking to himself in the mirror. "as if"

It was like he had cloned himself.  "as if"

 
 
LONG-STANDING BUT INFORMAL USE

"in modern English, like is often used as a conjunction instead of as. This is most common in an informal style.  'Nobody loves you like I do.' " (Swan 326.3)

"It would appear that in many kinds of written and spoken English like as a conjunction is struggling towards acceptable standard or neutral ground. It is not there yet. But the distributional patterns suggest that the long-standing resistance to the omnipresent little word is beginning to crumble." (Fowler "Like" 458)

"Conjunctive like was for some time thought to have originated in the 16th century, or perhaps earlier, as a shortening of an older compound conjunction like as. But new information published in the Middle English Dictionary shows that like by itself was used as a conjunction as long ago as like as was—from the 14th century.

Where did the idea that like as a conjunction is an illiteracy come from? …We do know that like became a subject of dispute in England and America in the 19th century.  (Merriam-Webster 600-2)

MOVING TOWARD ACCEPTABILITY

"In traditional usage, like is a preposition that governs nouns and noun phrases, not a conjunction that governs verbs or clauses.

*The story ended like it began. The story ended as it began.

"Although this use of like can no longer be considered an outright solecism, as it once was, it hasn't moved far from the borderline of acceptability. It is acceptable casual English; it isn't yet in the category on unimpeachable English. Language Change Index—like as a conjunction, Stage 4, and like for as if or as though, Stage 4.  (Garner "like" 512-3)

"There is a quite strong tradition of prescriptive opposition to these constructions. It is alleged that like requires an NP complement and cannot take a finite clause (or to put it in terms of the traditional analysis, that like is a 'preposition' not a 'conjunction'.) Undoubtedly, some speakers follow this rule, avoiding like in such examples [above] in favour of the competing forms. Such speakers are, however, very much in the minority: both constructions are commonly used, though somewhat more widely in AmE than in BrE.  (Huddleston 1158)

 

 

Resources

  • Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). Brigham Young U, 2013, corpus.byu.edu/coca.
  • Fowler's Modern English Usage. Edited by R. W. Burchfield and H. W. Fowler, revised 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2004.
  • Garner's Modern American Usage. by Bryan A. Garner, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Reprint ed., Merriam-Webster, 1994.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

Images

 

 

 

 

Practice

"Smart" Phones

mobile phones at school
 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 1-15" button at the bottom, or click the "check" button to the left  as you go.

 

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Gerunds

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Practice 2

User-Experiencephone addict

 

 

Read for Errors

Comparing the telephone user experience of the iPhone and the Blackberry phone is as comparing apples to oranges.  The Blackberry opens to a keypad with true button-like keys that the user depresses.  However, the iPhone has a touch screen with virtual-like keys. The user will experience the fat-finger effect if not careful. That is, the user may touch a neighboring key instead of the intended key.

  The Blackberry is a one-hand friendly telephone with speed-dial.  The iPhone cannot be used with one hand like earlier phones; it requires two hands to unlock the phone before dialing. Like the fat-finger effect, voice commands using Siri are also likely to cause errors.  If speaking in a noisy place, the user will hear a response like: "I'm not sure what you said, there." If the user says, "I am done," but Siri hears, "I am drunk, Siri dials a taxi, and then the user is like, "Nooooo!"

If the user loses the Blackberry, then the telephone and its address book are lost.  If the user loses the iPhone, it is like the person has lost a computer. Sensitive data like passwords, email, and other personal information are also lost.  It's like the user's personal life becomes open to whoever finds it.

Blackberry phones have their devoted users, who like the simplicity of the phone. Likely, iPhones have their devoted users, who appreciate the complexity of the phone.

Perhaps, the choice of the phone is very much as the person who buys it — simple or complex.

depress (V) – push down

devoted (Adj) – loyal and loving

virtual (Adj) – not real; simulated

 

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 16-25" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

16.
Comparing the "telephony" of the iPhone and the Blackberry phone is as comparing apples to oranges.  The Blackberry opens to a keypad with true button-like keys that the user depresses. 


17.
However, the iPhone has a touch screen with virtual-like keys. The user will experience the  fat-finger effect if not careful. That is, the user may touch a neighboring key instead of the intended key.


18.
The Blackberry is a one-hand friendly telephone with speed-dial.  The iPhone cannot be used with one hand like earlier phones; it requires two hands to unlock the phone before dialing.


19.
Like the fat-finger effect, voice commands using Siri are also likely to cause errors.  If speaking in a noisy place, the user will hear a response like: "I'm not sure what you said, there."


20.
If the user says, "I am done," but Siri hears, "I am drunk," Siri dials a taxi, and then the user is like, "Nooooo!"


21.
If the user loses the Blackberry, then the telephone and its address book are lost. If the user loses the iPhone, it is like the person has lost a computer.


22.
Sensitive data like passwords, email, and other personal information are also lost.


23.
It's like the user's personal life becomes open to whoever finds it.


24.
Blackberry phones have their devoted users, who like the simplicity of the phone. Likely, iPhones have their devoted users, who appreciate the complexity of the phone.


25.
Perhaps, the choice of the phone is very much as the person who buys it — simple or complex.