Using 'Como' in Spanish

Word Typically Means 'As' or 'Like'

two people for lesson on como
He decidido vestirme como quiero. (I have decided to dress myself the way I want.). Mixmike/Getty Images

Como is a common and useful word in Spanish that is frequently used to compare two things, persons, or actions that are similar.

Como Often Equivalent to 'Like' or 'As'

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 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.)
  • Dice que usa las redes sociales como un presidente moderno. (He says he uses social networks like a modern president.)
  • 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 me trates como un perro! (Don't treat me like a dog!)
  • Como tu profesor, quiero ayudarte y ser tu amiga. (As your teacher, I want to help you and be your friend.)
  • 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 to like it was before.)

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 in Approximations

Colloquially, como is sometimes used for approximations. Typical translations include "about" and "approximately."

  • Tengo un primo que pesa como 200 kilogramos. (I have a cousin who weighs approximately 200 kilograms.)
  • Maneje como dos millas pasando la gasolinera Texaco. (Drive about two miles, passing the Texaco gas station.)
  • Al final me costó como mil dólares tomar el examen. (In the end, it cost me something like $1,000 to take the text.)
  • Llevo como dos semanas intentando comprar los boletos en línea para el concierto. (I spent about two weeks trying to buy the tickets online for the concert.)

Using Como for 'How'

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?)
  • ¿Cómo puede algo tan pequeño hacerte sentir tan grande? (How can something so small make you feel so great?)
  • No sé cómo bajar los fotos del servidor. (I don't know how to download the photos from the server. Note: This is an example of cómo being used in an indirect question.)
  • No me importa cómo lo haces. (It doesn't matter to me how you do it.)
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Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Como' in Spanish." ThoughtCo, Oct. 31, 2017, Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, October 31). Using 'Como' in Spanish. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Como' in Spanish." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2018).