Which expression is the correct one, with respect to the bolded word?

A: That sounds as an excuse to me.
B: That sounds like an excuse to me.

Are they both correct? Neither?

  • 2
    I think this is hardly off-topic. The question is perfectly understandable as it is. Are askers expected to say how much effort they have put in for their questions to be answered? I find this absurd. It seems to me that the community will not accept a question for which they can't agree on an answer, and prefer to rule it out as "on hold".
    – Gustavson
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 10:07
  • 1
    @Gustavson It's closed for lack of context/research, not because of disagreement on an answer. That said, "as" and "like" are tricky and I don't think it's easy to find authoritative answers to which one is better in a particular sentence, so I lean toward reopening this one.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 11:39
  • I'm glad you are in favor of reopening it. I think the alleged lack of context or research merely served as an excuse not to face the fact that it was difficult to come up with a good answer.
    – Gustavson
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 11:57
  • 2
    @Gustavson - I agree; sometimes we are a little too quick to closevote a question without really considering how challenging it might be for a learner. That said, the answer to your "Are askers expected to say how much effort they have put in?" question, I've always recommended that approach – generally speaking, it's a good way to ward off downvotes and closevotes.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


They are both correct, but "as an excuse" is more old-fashioned and rarely used these days. Because of this, most people would use "like an excuse" as the default option.

  • "It sounds like an excuse" is a cliche. If a cliche is a default option, then yes, you're right. "As an excuse", old-fashioned or not, is far more frequently used, IMHO. See the Google Ngram Viewer
    – Victor B.
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 17:40
  • Isn't there a tacit implication that, in the case of (A), "I" thinks that what was said was actually an excuse while in the case of (B) "I" knows that whatever was said sounded like an excuse but was not one? (A is justified, B is not) Compare: work as a slave / work like a slave
    – Gustavson
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 1:23
  • 3
    @Rompey I can't remember a time when someone has said "That sounds as an excuse" to me. It might just be where I'm from, but I would always say "like an excuse". The google NGram viewer looks at books. In speech, "Like an excuse" is far more common in my experience.
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 7:33
  • @Gustavson In the excuse example, they have the same meaning. In your example, the word "work" changes the meaning, since "work as something" has its own different meaning. "sounds as something" does not have this change in meaning, making it the same as "sounds like something".
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 7:41
  • @AricFowler I know that the difference is more clearcut with work, but what I meant to say is that as usually carries a meaning of equivalence while like is more likely to convey the idea of similarity: sth that seems to be but is not.
    – Gustavson
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 10:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .