when to use like vs such as

Better Writing: When to Use “Like” vs. “Such As”

Have you ever wondered about the distinction between “like” or “such as” in your writing? Here are two phrases to consider:

. . . the answers that so-called geniuses like / such as Newton seem to embody.

. . . centuries of innovations like / such as the airplane and the space shuttle have resulted.

In these examples, “such as” is preferred over “like” because the word “like” implies comparison while “such as” implies inclusion. That means being like something doesn’t include the thing itself.

In the first phrase, Newton is intended to be included as a so-called genius, so “such as” is the correct choice. In the second phrase, the airplane and space shuttle are examples of innovations meant to be included within this context. In contrast, the sentence “he’s like a fish swimming upstream” provides a clear comparison.

Your challenge: When you’re about to write “like,” ask this question: Would I include this point in a list or exclude it? The answer becomes your clue to select either “like” (exclude) or “such as” (include).

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When you know how to write with precision and accuracy, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar.  Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a word choice guide Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters with details at www.WordTrippers.com.

Today’s Word Tripper:

Adopt, adapt “Adopt” means to take as one’s own as in someone else’s child, to choose something such as a lifestyle, or to formally accept something such as a position or principle. “Adapt” means to adjust to various conditions. “When you adopt a young girl, be sure to make it easy for her to adapt to your living environment.”

Barbara McNichol, Word TrippersBarbara McNichol works with business professionals to provide expert editing of nonfiction books and help them improve their writing skills. Over the past 22 years, she has placed more than 320 books on her editing “trophy shelf.”

On a crusade to boost the quality of business writing, she offers a monthly ezine Add Power to Your Pen as well as a WordShop on Business Writing Essentials and her word choice guide Word Trippers: Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word When It Really Matters. Because she keeps tripping over more Word Trippers (pairs such as “except vs. accept” that get mixed up), she produces Word Tripper of the Week ezine (www.wordtrippers.com)

You can reach Barbara at 520-615-7910 or editor@barbaramcnichol.com and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

This post is participating in our blog-a-thon in honor of administrative professionals.

We want to hear from you.

It’s your turn! Have you struggled with when to use “like” vs. “such as” – what are your most common word trippers? Have a question for the author of this post? Let’s chat by sharing your comment below.

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