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Comparisons: Like vs. As

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Like versus as. This video examines the difference between like and as in comparisons. In colloquial American English, like is massively overused. So the GMAT frequently tests this point. Here's the big rule first of all. We use like with nouns.

With comparisons focused on nouns. We use as with clauses. That is full actions, comparisons that focus on a full action, a noun plus a full verb. So that's the big rule, but we need to clarify this a bit. First of all, here's an example sentence that is wrong.

He walked into the office like Bogart sauntered into Rick's Cafe in Casablanca. All right. So the problem is here we have like and then a noun and then a full verb. So that is 100% wrong. We would either just have to have like plus a noun. So it would be perfectly correct to say, he walked into the office like Bogart.

Done, that's perfectly correct. It would be perfectly correct to take the red sentence and replace like with as. You walk into the office as Bogart sauntered into Rick's Cafe in Casablanca. So both of those are perfectly fine. The word like must be followed by a noun, but that noun can be modified by a participle or clause.

So, for example, would also be perfectly fine to say. He walked into the office like Bogart sauntering into Rick's Cafe in Casablanca. Well that's perfectly correct. What we have there is like plus a noun, plus a noun modifier. Notice we could even have, he walked into the office like Bogart who sauntered into Rick's Cafe in Casablanca.

Again, we have like. Noun, noun modifier. Now we have to be very careful here. If you just get automatic and say, uh-oh, there's a clause after the like, so it must be wrong, we have to be very careful here. We have to pay attention, is the clause the object of the comparison, or is that clause simply a noun modifying clause, what we call an adjectival clause, a clause playing the role of an adjective.

And it's modifying the noun and the noun is the object of comparison. We have to be very careful in discerning this. So here's an example sentence. Read this sentence and see if you can find whether there's an, any error in this sentence. Pause the video and study this sentence.

So for parts of his life, Burroughs was a writer in self-imposed exile, like Joyce, who lived a generation earlier, left Ireland and chose to write about his homeland from a distance. That is a problem, because notice we cut some of the fluff. What we have is like. And then noun, Joyce, and then we actually have two complete verbs in parallel, left Ireland and chose.

So we have like, noun, full verb. That's wrong. So, to fix this pattern, first of all, we could replace like with as. That would be one solution. For parts of his life, Burroughs was a writer in self-imposed exile. As Joyce, who lived a generation earlier left Ireland and chose to write about his homeland from a distance.

So that would be perfectly correct. Another way to make it correct would be to change around that second part a little bit so that it's like and then the noun Joyce and then noun modifiers. So we could say for parts of his life, Burroughs was a writer in self-imposed exile, like Joyce a generation earlier, who left Ireland and chose to write about his homeland from a distance.

So that also is 100% correct. Another comparative form involving as is the structure as. Dot, dot, dot, as adjective as without a negation this idiom is used to say that two things are of the same degree in a certain adjective so for example P is as tall as Q, P is as poised as Q, P is as knowledgeable about African lizards as is Q.

Notice that we need the verb after the as in that last one to make the comparison unambiguous, to make sure that we're comparing Q to P and not Q to the knowledge of African lizards. With a negative, this idiom is equivalent to less than. So we say Mount Denali is not as high as the Himalayas. Or Michael Bloomburg the former mayor of New York is not as wealthy as Warren Buffet.

So in both cases we're saying one thing is less than the other thing. But notice, be very careful. It's not working as a full negative. We're not saying Mount Denali is not high. We're not saying that. Mount Denali is the highest mountain in North America.

Course it's a high mountain. It's just not as high as the high Himalayas. Michael Bloomburg, we're not saying Michael Bloomburg is not wealthy. The man is a millionaire. He is just not as wealthy as Warren Buffet. So be very careful about the interpretation here.

Read this sentence. Pause the video. Read this sentence. And see whether you can tell whether there's any error or not. Okay. Zhuangzi's interpretation of Daoism, though highly imaginative, did not have the last, did not have as lasting an impact on the course of Chinese civilization as had his contemporary Mengzi's interpretation of Confucianism.

So we have a very long phrase. As lasting an impact, and then a long descriptor, as. But this is actually perfectly correct. This sentence is 100% correct, and could be a correct answer on the GMAT. In summary. Use like with nouns and as with clauses.

That's the big rule. The noun following like can be modified by any modifying phrase or clause, so we can't get too automatic by saying no clause can come after like. It perfectly fine for a clause to come after like if it's a noun modifying clause. The structure as adjective as indicates two items are similar.

The structure not as adjective as is equivalent to less adjective than so, for example, not as wealthy as is equivalent to less wealthy than.

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