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Like vs. Such As: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 15, 2023
"Like" is used to show similarity, while "such as" provides specific examples.

Key Differences

"Like" and "such as" are often used in comparisons, but they serve distinct purposes. "Like" is employed to indicate similarity or resemblance between things. When someone uses "like," they are comparing the characteristics or nature of two or more entities without providing specifics. For instance, "Animals like lions and tigers are carnivorous" is a general comparison of animals based on similarity.
On the other hand, "such as" is utilized to offer specific examples. It's more definitive, pointing directly to particular instances or cases. In the statement, "Big cats, such as lions and tigers, are carnivorous," the speaker provides concrete examples of big cats instead of making a general comparison.
It's also worth noting that "like" can sometimes be used in a broader sense, encompassing other meanings, such as fondness or preference. For example, "I like ice cream." "Such as," however, remains more consistent in its usage, almost always introducing examples.
Another subtle difference between "like" and "such as" lies in exclusivity. When using "like," there's an implication that there might be other entities with similar characteristics not mentioned. With "such as," while there can be more examples, those provided are specific and concrete.
From a grammatical standpoint, both "like" and "such as" serve as prepositions. They introduce related information, but it's crucial to choose the right one based on whether the intention is to show similarity or provide explicit examples.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Indicates similarity or resemblance.
Introduces specific examples.


Animals like lions are carnivorous.
Carnivorous animals, such as lions, exist.


Implies others might share characteristics
Provides specific, definitive instances.

Additional Meanings

Can indicate fondness or preference.
Typically only introduces examples.

Grammatical Role

Serves as a preposition.
Also serves as a preposition.

Like and Such As Definitions


Typical or characteristic of.
That sounds like something he would say.

Such As

Of a kind or character to be indicated or suggested.
A talent such as his is rare.


Used to indicate possibility.
It looks like it might rain.

Such As

For example or to introduce specific instances.
There are fruits such as apples and bananas in the basket.


Having fondness or preference for.
She likes chocolate.

Such As

Used to introduce a trait or quality.
Words of encouragement, such as good job, boost morale.


Used to draw attention to a characteristic.
The car, like the bike, is blue.

Such As

In roles or cases like.
Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. inspire change.


Similar to or resembling.
His personality is like his father's.

Such As

Indicating a particular yet unspecified quality or feature.
Animals such as cats are domesticated.


To find pleasant or attractive; enjoy
Do you like ice cream? I like your style.


To want to have
I would like some coffee.


When is "such as" used?

"Such as" is used to introduce specific examples.

Can "like" and "such as" be used interchangeably?

While sometimes used interchangeably, they have distinct purposes: similarity vs. specific examples.

Is "like" only used for comparisons?

No, "like" can also indicate fondness or preference, among other meanings.

Can "such as" introduce a single example?

Yes, "such as" can introduce one or multiple specific examples.

Which is more specific, "like" or "such as"?

"Such as" is more specific, providing concrete examples.

Does "such as" imply an exhaustive list?

No, "such as" introduces examples, but the list isn't necessarily exhaustive.

What's the primary use of "like"?

"Like" primarily indicates similarity or resemblance.

Can "such as" introduce non-concrete examples?

Yes, "such as" can introduce abstract examples or concepts.

Can "like" introduce a list?

While sometimes used this way, it's clearer to use "such as" for introducing specific examples in a list.

Can "like" begin a sentence?

While not common in formal writing, it can in informal contexts, e.g., "Like I said, it's cold."

How does "like" differ from "love"?

"Like" indicates a moderate fondness, while "love" indicates a deeper affection or passion.

Does "like" have other grammatical roles?

Yes, besides a preposition, "like" can be a conjunction or a verb.

Can "like" be used as a verb?

Yes, as in "I like chocolate."

Can "such as" be followed by a full sentence?

Typically, "such as" introduces nouns or noun phrases, not full sentences.

Is "such as" always followed by a comma?

Not always, but it often is when introducing a list or multiple examples.

Is "such as" a conjunction?

Typically, "such as" functions as a preposition, introducing examples.

How does "such as" relate to "including"?

Both introduce examples, but "including" might imply a part of a whole, whereas "such as" simply provides examples.

What part of speech is "like"?

"Like" can be a preposition, conjunction, or verb, depending on its use.

Is "such as" formal?

"Such as" is neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

Does "like" always indicate exact similarity?

No, "like" can indicate a general resemblance, not necessarily exact.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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