1

In this sentence, which would be the better word to use, 'like' or 'as'?

"Chugging alcohol is like/as talking to God."

What would the difference be?

4

Like

You can use like or as in comparisons, but they go with different grammatical follow-ups.

Like goes with nouns:

Chugging alcohol is like talking to G-d.

Similar works the same way but ironically emphasizes the distinction instead of the similarity.

Chugging alcohol is similar to talking to G-d [implied "but isn't the same thing"].

As goes with prepositional phrases and clauses:

Chugging alcohol makes people feel as if they were talking to G-d.

Chugging alcohol makes people feel as though they were talking to G-d.

There's also as ~ as, though, which takes nouns:

Chugging alcohol is as good as talking to G-d.

although that also emphasizes that they are noticeably distinct things. It's just that they are considered equally good by the speaker.

  • There's also (as pointed out here) a role for as when followed by nouns, but it's a different one meaning in the role of. 'Chugging alcohol is great as G-d' properly means, if you should happen to be G-d, chugging alcohol will be great for you. There's also such as, but that's used for listing examples. – lly Apr 8 '17 at 3:57
  • Like can also take phrases as well, though it's usually taken as less formal: Chugging alcohol [is/feels/makes me feel] like I'm talking to G-d. Really, those two words are both so basic that any prescriptivist rules start to get very messy and riddled with exceptions. The underlying problem is that as + a noun usually means something else and so sounds 'off' here. – lly Apr 8 '17 at 4:00
-2

It is a comparison; one is looking for similarity.

Ergo, "like" applies, while "as" would be incorrect.

  • You use as for comparisons as well. – lly Apr 8 '17 at 3:43
  • @lly: Not in this case. – Ricky Apr 8 '17 at 3:45
  • 1
    Right, but that has nothing to do with its being a comparison. – lly Apr 8 '17 at 3:51

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