by Barbara McNichol
. . . 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.
Here’s why such as is preferred instead of like in these phrases: The word “like” implies comparison while “such as” implies inclusion. Thus, being like something doesn’t include the thing itself. If the sentence was “they’re like a fish trying to swim upstream,” then it’s a clear comparison.
Let’s examine this more closely. In the first phrase, the author does include Newton as a so-called genius, so “such as” is the better choice. Similarly, in the second phrase, the airplane and space shuttle are examples of innovations, so they’re meant to be included.
Do you see how your intended meaning within the context of your writing helps you choose which word to use?
Your challenge: When you’re about to write “like,” ask this question: Would I include this point in a list or exclude it? That’s your clue on selecting “like” (exclude) or “such as” (include).
Need help determining which word to choose? Ask a question with your example in this blog.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers find lists and other helps including , Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her SharingingwithWriters blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-: