In 1954, an advertising campaign for a popular cigarette company brought the infamous grammar debate to the public eye. The cigarette company’s advertising campaign read their cigarettes “like a cigarette should” and proper grammar users were outraged because the ad should be “as a cigarette should.” The like vs as debate is still frequent to nowadays because not everyone knows the correct use of the words. If you are one of those people who are unsure of when to use like or as, after reading this article, everything should be cleared up in the end.

Like vs As: What’s the Difference?

When you want to show how similar two things are, you can use like or as. Of course, it is difficult to always be one hundred percent sure which one to use, but the root of the difference between like and as is that like is traditionally used as a preposition and as is used as a conjunction. Nevertheless, people have been using like as if it were a conjunction for quite some time. So here is a quick way to decide whether as or like should be used. If you mean to compare between nouns, use like. If the comparison involves a full subject and a verb clause, you would choose to use as.

Like vs As: How to Use Them Correctly



Like is a preposition. A preposition is a word that positions or situates words in relation to one another, and is usually followed by a noun, a pronoun, a gerund (-ing form of the verb, used as a noun) or a noun clause. The common used prepositions are around, on, in, etc. If you are not sure about how to use like, just think about the usage of these words first.

Correct Usage:

  • The weather in Denver is not like the weather in Miami.

  • She is lazy like a dog.

  • My brother’s father looks just like Chuck Norris.

Incorrect Usage:

  • He washed his hands before dinner, like his mother always did before.

Other Usage:

Like can also be used to give examples to mean "such as".

  • There are so many great enjoyments in the city like visiting the park, walking downtown and going skiing.

  • I want to buy so many things like clothes, bags and pens.



As is a conjuction. A conjunction is simply a connecting word, introducing a subordinate clause which contains a verb. Common conjunctions are and, but, etc. As we have mentioned above, you can think about the usage of these words before using as.

Correct Usage:

  • Treat people as you treat yourself.

  • She is a great soccer player, just as Mia Hamm was in the Olympic Games.

  • Nobody can dance as my sister does.

Incorrect Usage:

  • Komodo dragons, as dinosaurs, are very big.

Other Usage:

As can also be used to indicate that one event was happening at the same time as another one:

  • The teacher arrived just as we were passing notes.

  • As the plane descended to the ground, the baby cried louder.


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