Like this!

Apr 07, 2017
The word ‘like’ seems very often to be wrongly used in written English. I’m not talking about the way youngsters insist on using the word as a verbal tick, which is annoying enough in itself, but when it means, ‘for example’.

“I prefer not to shop at retailers like Tesco and Sainsburys.”  Well that’s fine, but which shops do you mean that are ‘like’ Tesco and Sainsburys? Presumably you are talking about all the other giant retailers other than the ones you mention.  Oh! Is that not what you meant?  Well, why not say ‘such as’ then?  Or maybe ‘for example’.

Now I might be being a little pedantic here.  In the spoken word especially, it’s unlikely that anyone other than me, who’s trying to be difficult, would misunderstand.  But it is still wrong.  And what happens when it’s not so obvious?   “Who should we invite to our party on Saturday dear?” she said.  He replied, “I thought people like Bill and George from the Rugby club.”  So why not invite all the rugby club then as they presumably have similar interests?  Oh, he meant friends ‘such as’ the famous Bill and George. Ah well, that opens up the field much wider.  Presumably Mary from the petrol station can come as she’s a friend too. See the problem?

English is an evolutionary language.  It is to this that it owes its global success.  But there’s evolution, and confusion.  We should not mistake one, for the other.

Steve JordanSteve Jordan, Managing Director, The Words Workshop
Managing Director