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Using 'Como'

Word Typically Means 'As' or 'Like'

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baby sleeping

No duermo como antes. (I don't sleep like I did before.)

Photo by Toshiyuki IMAI; licensed via Creative Commons.

Como is frequently used as a preposition or conjunction that means "like" or "as." Regardless of which of the two parts of speech it is used as, it is generally understood much the same way by English speakers, so this introductory lesson will look at examples of its usage as both parts of speech together. (Note: English translations used in this lesson reflect English as it is frequently spoken rather than distinguishing among "proper" uses of "like" and "as.")

Como the conjunction/preposition should not be confused with the homonym como, the first-person singular indicative form of comer that means "I eat."

Como nearly always means something similar to "in the manner of" and/or is used to make actual or implied comparisons:

  • Piense como un millonario. Think like a millionaire.
  • Si se parece a un pato, anda como un pato y grazna como un pato, entonces es un pato. If it seems like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck.
  • Te quiero, pero como amigo. I love you, but as a friend.
  • No hay nadie como Francisco. There is nobody like Francisco.
  • No duermo como antes. I don't sleep like (I did) before.
  • He decidido vestirme como quiero. I have decided to dress myself the way I want.
  • Te odio como jamás he odiado a nadie. I hate you like I've never hated anyone before.
  • Como era de esperar, la película ha batido todos los récords. As expected, the film has broken all records.
  • Mírame como si fuera la primera vez. Look at me as if it were the first time.
  • Salieron como si nada hubiera pasado. They left as if nothing had happened.
  • El cine se lo conoce como el séptimo arte. Cinema is known as the seventh art.
  • Quiero la piel como estaba antes. I want my skin like it was before.

Colloquially, como is sometime used for approximations:

  • Tengo un primo que pesa como 200 kilogramos. I have a cousin who weighs about 200 kilograms.
  • Maneje como dos millas pasando la gasolinera Texaco. Drive about two miles, passing the Texaco gas station.

With an orthographic accent, cómo becomes an adverb and is often translated as "how." This occurs most often in questions and indirect questions:

  • ¿Cómo estás? How are you?
  • ¿Cómo puedo adquirir un pasaporte? How can I get a passport?
  • No sé cómo bajar los fotos del servidor. I don't know how to download the photos from the server.

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