like / as

We use as to talk about a job or function:

  • I worked as an executive assistant for ten years. (job)
  • He used a pair of scissors as a weapon to defend himself from the attacker. (function)

    We use like to make a comparison:

  • That cloud looks like a dragon.
  • She sings like an angel.
  • ne difference is that as is used when something truly has that job or function, and like is used when something is similar, but not really the other thing. Compare:
  • Brad Pitt works as an actor.

    (Brad Pitt is really and truly an actor)

  • John looks like Brad Pitt.

    (John is not really Brad Pitt, but he has a similar appearance)

    We can also use as if to talk about something that is similar (but not really the case):

  • When I’m skiing, I feel like I’m flying.
  • When I’m skiing, I feel as if I’m flying.
  • Barbara acts like she’s superior to everyone else.
  • Barbara acts as if she’s superior to everyone else.

    We can use both such as (more formal) and like (more informal) to introduce an example:

  • I prefer science fiction movies, such as Star Wars.
  • I prefer science fiction movies, like Star Wars.