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Like vs. Such As

For such a nice word, like causes a lot of headaches, even aside from its overuse, like, in everyday speech. When you want to provide an example of a category, or offer a comparison, do you use like, or such as?

INCORRECT

  • He enjoys reading poems like “On Turning Ten” by Billy Collins.
  • A guitar is such as a lute.
  • They refuse to focus on challenging topics like English grammar.

CORRECT

Do you need an equivalency (like), or an inclusive category (such as)? Lemons are like limes; limes are like grapefruits. Using such as, on the other hand, gives you an inclusive set of categories. I enjoy all types of citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Like is not inclusive; when you say that you love listening to songs like “Singing in the Rain,” you are saying that you don’t actually listen to that song. You just listen to songs like it. If you say that you love listening to songs such as “Singing in the Rain,” suddenly a whole array of catchy songs will appear in the listener’s mind, never to depart.

MORE TO KNOW

Many beginning writers throw in a comma after like or such as. “He has been to places like, Newfoundland” and “I lived in countries such as, Indonesia, Germany, and Ecuador” include an unnecessary comma. They were perfect without it! Your sentence is either equivalent or inclusive, and that is all you need to determine.

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