"like" vs "such as"(Usage Disputes)
The Little, Brown Handbook (6th ed., HarperCollins, 1995) says: "Strictly, _such as_ precedes an example that represents a larger subject, whereas _like_ indicates that two subjects are comparable. _Steve has recordings of many great saxophonists such as Ben Webster and Lee Konitz._ _Steve wants to be a great jazz saxophonist like Ben Webster and Lee Konitz._" Nobody would use "such as" in the second sentence; the disputed usage is "like" in the first sentence. Opposing it are: earlier editions of The Little, Brown Handbook (which did not use the hedge "strictly"); the _Random House English Language Desk Reference_ (1995); _The Globe and Mail Style Book_ (Penguin, 1995); _Webster's Dictionary & Thesaurus_ (Shooting Star Press, 1995); _Fine Print: Reflections on the Writing Art_ by James Kilpatrick (Andrews and McMeel, 1993); _The Wordwatcher's Guide to Good Writing and Grammar_ by Morton S. Freeman (Writer's Digest, 1990); _Word Perfect: A Dictionary of Current English Usage_ by John O. E. Clark (Harrap, 1987); and _Keeping Up the Style_ by Leslie Sellers (Pitman, 1975). The OED, first edition, in its entry on "like" (which is in a section prepared in 1903), said that "in modern use", "like" "often = 'such as', introducing a particular example of a class respecting which something is predicated". Merriam-Webster Editorial Department unearthed the following 19th-century citations for me: "Good sense, like hers, will always act when really called upon", Jane Austen, _Mansfield Park_, 1814; "A straight-forward, open-hearted man, like Weston, and a rational unaffected woman, like Miss Taylor, may be safely left to their own concerns", Jane Austen, _Emma_, 1816; "[...] to argue that because a well-stocked island, like Great Britain, has not, as far as is known [...]", Charles Darwin, _Origin of the Species_, 1859. Fowler apparently saw nothing wrong with "like" in this sense: in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, he gave "resembling, such as" without a usage label as one its meanings, and gave the example "a critic like you", which he explained as "of the class that you exemplify". And he used it himself in the passage quoted under "'less' vs 'fewer'" above. More commonly, though, he wrote "such ... as" when using examples to define the set ("such bower-birds' treasures as _au pied de la lettre_, _a` merveille_, [...] and _sauter aux yeux_"), and "as" or "such as" when the words preceding the examples sufficed to define the set ("familiar words in -o, as _halo_ and _dado_"; "simple narrative poems in short stanzas, such as _Chevy Chase_"). This is the same restrictive vs nonrestrictive mentioned under "'that' vs 'which'": "Ballads, such as Chevy Chase, can be danced to" would imply that all ballads can be danced to, whereas "Such ballads as Chevy Chase can be danced to" would not. "Such ... as" is now confined to formal use, and for informal restrictive uses where the example is not introduced merely for the sake of example, but is the actual topic of the sentence, "like" is now obligatory: "I'm so glad to have a friend like Paul." _Guide to Canadian English Usage_ by Margery Fee and Janice McAlpine (Oxford, 1997, ISBN 0-19-540841-1) rightly points out that "such as" would not be idiomatic here. _Modern American Usage_ by Wilson Follett (Hill and Wang, 1966) says: "_Such as_ is close in meaning to _like_ and may often be interchanged with it. The shade of difference between them is that _such as_ leads the mind to imagine an indefinite group of objects [...]. The other comparing word _like_ suggests a closer resemblance among the things compared [...]. [...P]urists object to phrases of the type _a writer like Shakespeare_, _a leader like Lincoln_. No writer, say these critics, _is_ like Shakespeare; and in this they are wrong; writers are alike in many things and the context usually makes clear what the comparison proposes to our attention. _Such as Shakespeare_ may sound less impertinent, but if Shakespeare were totally incomparable _such as_ would be open to the same objection as _like_." Bernstein, in _Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins_ (Farrar, 1971), agrees, calling those who object to "German composers like Beethoven" "nit-pickers".
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