Although the terms like and such as are often used interchangeably, they do have slightly different functions. Formally, at least, these differences still matter.
Here are the classic definitions:
- Use like to compare something you’ve mentioned to an example or examples.
- Use such as to show that the example is representative of a category.
But there’s an easier way to remember:
- Like shows a relation. (X is compared to A, B, and C.)
- Such as gives specific examples without comparing. (A, B, and C are types of X.)
I’ll show you what I mean:
- Sally wants to be a famous cook like Julia Childs and Emeril. (Sally compares herself to the cooks.)
- Many famous cooks, such as Julia Childs and Emeril, have inspired Sally. (There’s no comparison; the two cooks are examples of the ones who inspired Sally.)