Mastering the English language can be tough, especially when you're trying to figure out the usage of similar phrases like 'such as' and 'like'. A misplaced word or incorrect usage could result in miscommunication, particularly in professional settings where accurate language is important.

But don't worry! This article aims to clarify your understanding of the expressions 'such as' and 'like'. We will delve into their correct usage, highlight their differences and similarities, and guide you through a series of exercises, all designed to boost your confidence in spoken English.

What Do 'Such As' and 'Like' Mean?

In competitive exams like GMAT, 'such as' and 'like' are common English phrases that often confuse non-native aspirants. Understanding their correct usage will significantly enhance your English communication skills.

'Such as' is used to introduce specific examples within a general category. For instance, "The company offers various employee benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans." Here, health insurance and retirement plans are particular items in the general class of employee benefits.

On the other hand, 'like' is used to highlight similarities or comparisons, usually followed by a noun or pronoun. An example would be: "My friend sings just like Lata Mangeshkar." In this case, 'like' compares the singing style of my friend with Lata Mangeshkar.

When to Use ‘Such As’ and 'Like'?

When it comes to ‘such as’ vs 'like', choosing the right one hinges on the context.

As mentioned earlier, ‘such as’ is used to provide specific examples. It brings in additional information or examples without altering the meaning of the main sentence. For example, "Bollywood actors such as Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone have international recognition". The main idea – Bollywood actors being globally known – remains unchanged.

The function of 'like' varies:

  • Comparison: When drawing comparisons or showing resemblance, use 'like'. For example, "She sings like Lata Mangeshkar." Here, 'like' compares someone's singing style to Lata Mangeshkar's.

  • Preference: 'Like' is also used as a verb for expressing preferences or dislikes. For example: "I like watching cricket matches."

Remember these points while using 'such as' and 'like', and soon enough they'll become a natural part of your English communication! 

How Do Learners Commonly Misuse ‘Such As’ and ‘Like’?

A common mistake learners make while using 'such as' and 'like' is thinking these expressions are entirely interchangeable. While they can often substitute for each other, there are instances where one is more appropriate than the other.

For instance, in casual, spoken English conversations, 'like' is often used to introduce examples. 'Like' fits better in everyday conversations or informal writing. You might say, "I enjoy sports like cricket and badminton."

However, 'such as' presents a more formal tone compared to 'like'. In professional settings or written documents, it's more appropriate to say, "The report covers several topics, such as market trends and customer behaviour," rather than using 'like'.

To avoid these common missteps and enhance your command over language usage, take a look at Clapingo's informative video on 5 Mistakes Spoken English Learners Must Avoid | Learn English Online.

Practical Exercises to Master 'Such As' and 'Like'

Excelling in the usage of 'such as' and 'like' involves consistent practice. Here is an interactive 'such as' vs 'like' exercise designed to help you get the hang of it:

  1. He looks _____ his father when he smiles.

  • Answer: like

  • Explanation: "Like" is used to draw a comparison between two similar things or people. Here, it compares the son's smile to that of his father.

  1. The chef prepared various desserts _____ chocolate cake and apple pie.

  • Answer: such as

  • Explanation: "Such as" is used to introduce examples of desserts that fall under a broader category.

  1. She sings _____ an angel.

  • Answer: like

  • Explanation: "Like" is used to compare her singing to the characteristics of an angel, implying that her singing is similar in quality or purity.

  1. They enjoy activities _____ swimming and playing tennis.

  • Answer: such as

  • Explanation: Again, "such as" introduces examples of activities within a broader category, in this case, physical activities.

Remember to use everyday situations to practice the usage of ‘such as’ vs ‘like’. The more you use it, the more natural it will come to you. For more guidance on improving your English skills online, check out Clapingo's blog post on How Can I Improve My English Online: Level Up Your Language Skills.

Final Thoughts

Mastering the differences between 'such as' and 'like' may seem challenging at first. But as we've explored, knowing when to use each phrase can vastly improve your spoken English. Remember, 'such as' is used to provide specific examples while 'like' indicates similarity or comparison. Incorrect usage of these phrases is a common mistake among language learners. However, you now have the tools to avoid these errors!

Consistent practice is key here. Try using these tips in your daily communication - be it in professional emails or casual conversations with friends. Remember, every step you take in your learning journey is a step towards fluency.

For a more personalised, structured learning experience, consider Clapingo's one-on-one coaching sessions. Clapingo's native tutors can guide you in mastering such nuances of the English language effortlessly and effectively!


1. What is the main difference between 'such as' and 'like'?

'Such as' is used to provide specific examples within a broader category. On the other hand, 'like' is used to show similarity or comparison.

2. Can 'such as' and 'like' be used interchangeably?

While both 'such as' and 'like' can be used to give examples, they are not always interchangeable. The use of one over the other depends largely on the context and specific sentence structure.

3. Are there any 'such as' vs 'like' exercises I can do?

Absolutely! Sentence analysis, correction, and comparison exercises will be of great use in mastering 'such as' vs 'like'.

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