Such Is Like ....
To hear me talk about the e-mails I get from readers of my column, you might think I get a lot. I don’t. Unfortunately, of the e-mails I do get, about half of them are to point out mistakes I made. And about 95 percent of those aren’t real errors. They’re based on misconceptions that, ironically, I have addressed over and over again in the column.
Here’s an example:
“In your June 10 column you refer to "editors like me." Unless you're speaking of editors who bear similarities to you, I think the phrase should be "editors such as me.”
The author of this e-mail has been writing to me for at least seven or eight years. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the “like” vs. “such as” issue before in the column, just as I have here. Yet this reader often seems to think he’s educating me about issues I had no idea existed until he e-mailed me.
The issue of whether “like” can be a synonym for “such as” is an old one, and it’s well-known among people who pay attention to language. The popular misconception is that it cannot: “like” means "similar to” and “such as” means “for example” and that anything else equals bad grammar.
Not so. “Like” isn’t just a verb meaning “bearing a resemblance to.” It’s also a preposition that can mean “such as,” according to Merriam Webster’s.
Every other source I checked agrees. Yet I doubt I've convinced my e-mail friend and I'm even more doubtful that I've convinced him that I.