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Be like Mike, or do as he does

To emulate someone, you may want to be like him or do as she does.

The word "like" is considered a preposition followed by a noun or pronoun (like Mike; like your brother).

The word "as" is a conjunction that begins a new subordinate clause (as Mary says; as the instructor explained). Therefore, action (a verb) follows "as."

In informal English, "like" may be used as a conjunction meaning "as"; but in formal English, "like" is followed only by a noun or pronoun, never a verb. For instance:

Jane is a pianist like the master. (noun)

Jane plays the piano as the master does. (verb)

Sometimes "like" is substituted for phrases such as "as if" or "as though":

He looked like he had been in a fight.

Mary sounded like she had been crying.

"Like" is not a conjunction; use instead:

He looked as if he had been in a fight.

Mary sounded as though she had been crying.

— Sandi Ekberg taught high school English in Medford for 30 years, with a special interest in vocabulary, grammar and usage. If you have grammar questions you would like answered, email her at ifixgrammar@charter.net