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 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.
Action: When you’re about to write “like,” ask this question: In a list, would I include this point or exclude it? The answer becomes your clue to select either “like” (exclude) or “such as” (include).
Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping authors add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips resource so you can quickly find the right word when it matters most. It allows you to improve your writing through excellent weekly resources in your inbox, including a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks. Details at www.WordTrippers.com
If you like this blog post, you’ll love all the content available for our members. Learn more about joining the Nonfiction Authors Association!