Koslow has written of women and their friendships and lives before, in books such as The Late, Lamented Molly Marx and Little Pink Slips. Her books are entertaining, "smart, raw, and achingly real," according to Publishers Weekly. Having had a number of wonderful roommates and long-running female friendships throughout my life in New York City, I can attest to Koslow's accuracy and unwillingness to take the easy way out, from a writer's point of view. She's real and refreshingly honest, if a bit up-to-the-minute with her characters' life situations.
Her latest title made me think about a rather finesse point of grammar and diction: the difference in meaning between "like" and "such as." Many stylists feel that properly speaking, "like" should only be used to compare one thing to another or a group of others, while "such as" is used to single out one from a group. As ever, an example makes this clearer.
Consider "Male writers, such as Hemingway, are less likely to write about female friendships in depth." "Such as" singles out Hemingway as one of a larger group, "male writers." He is one of the male writers, not like a male writer. In fact if you told Hemingway, while he was alive, that he was like a male writer, you could expect a punch in the nose.
Yet many other stylists note that this point is a persnickety point observed only by certain editors and copyeditors and that it really never was any kind of a rule. In popular vernacular, certainly no one is going to actually misunderstand and think that Hemingway is like a male writer but not actually a male writer.
Similar discussions go on about the words "since" and "because," but we'll leave that for another post.
What do you think is the difference between "since" and "because"? Do you think there is any difference between "like" and "such as"?
Ellen Scordato has 25 years' book publishing experience as an editor, copy editor, proofreader, and managing editor. She's now a partner in The Stonesong Press, a nonfiction book producer and agency. In addition to her work at Stonesong, Ellen has taught grammar, punctuation, and style at the New School for more than 12 years in the English Language Studies department and is currently teaching English as a Second Language at Cabrini Immigrant Services.