This is a very common instance of confusion, although in most cases the two are interchangeable. Only a real stickler (or very dedicated editor) would single these out as errors. In any case, it helps to know what these words’ proper uses are.
Again, if used interchangeably, either like or such as are correct when introducing either a list or comparison:
Darcy loves cookies like chocolate chip and peanut butter.
Darcy loves cookies such as chocolate chip and peanut butter.
Generally speaking, like suggests a comparison whereas such as suggests a list of examples. If using only one clause as comparison, it’s better to use like, as the sentence flows better (but that’s more a stylistic preference as opposed to a necessary correction).
Darcy makes cookies like chocolate chip and peanut butter. (Cookies compared to chocolate chip and peanut butter.)
Darcy can make all kinds of cookies, such as chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal. (Chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal listed.)
Darcy can make all kinds of cookies like chocolate chip. (Like used to list one item.)
A good way to remember when to use such as is when you would use including (unless you decide to use including instead).
Our bake sale featured a variety of cookies, including chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal.
All-too-common words are usually found at the start of sentences. Often, these words are just filler and set you up to write run-on sentences. The thing is, these words aren’t always necessary to your sentence. When overused, they do more harm than good. And more than anything, these words are boring, stale and lacking in any sort of life.
The following is a list of the most common words that editors either like to cut or replace in text to make the writing more dynamic and appealing. Just because we care so much, we’re including some potential replacements to make things easier. Otherwise, removing these words completely works as a solution in many cases as well.
And, Also: As well, in addition to, moreover, furthermore, plus, what’s more
But: Yet, however, conversely, nevertheless, although, despite
So: Thus, therefore, hence, accordingly, as such
Because: As a result, for this reason, considering
Have, Get: These two can take on a multitude of meanings depending on their context. Consult a thesaurus if you must to find more interesting alternatives.
Catchy headlines, sales copy and fictional writing are inclined to break the rules of writing and get away with it. And all the power to them. That just means professional writing is easier to execute on account of its simple rules and expectations.
If you want your professional or business writing to always have a professional tone, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you don’t sound like a used car salesman when speaking to your current and prospective clients. (Using terminology like “used car salesman” is not one of them.) The following are some tips to keep in mind to ensure your professional business writing sounds like it means business.
1. No Ellipses
Ellipses are a set of three consecutive periods used to separate thoughts (…). They aren’t incorrect by any means. But when used too freely, they become distasteful. Some use ellipses in place of a comma or dash. Don’t do this. The only time it’s OK to use ellipses in professional writing is to substitute missing text in the middle of a quote, like so:
“The dog ran away […] after which he returned.”
2. Drop Exclamation Marks
It’s easy to get carried away with these, especially when you want to emphasize something or if you feel really passionately about a point. Unless you want your reader to feel like they’re being yelled at, refrain from using exclamation marks. Nothing in professional language should be that dramatic. And if you want to be dramatic, a passive period would be more effective.
3. Go Easy on Brackets
Their use is absolutely correct when you want to separate a thought within a sentence. But do this sparingly, as you don’t want your sentences to get too complex and convoluted. If you’re being professional, you want to be cogent and succinct. You don’t want your reader getting lost in too many side notes.
4. Avoid Contractions
Contractions like it’s, you’re and they’ll should be written in their formal it is, you are and they will forms. Contractions make the flow of language more fluid, and are great for when you want the written word to sound like the spoken word. But in many professional instances, they can come off as too casual.
5. Be Careful of Repetition
This applies to any form of writing, really. But using the same word too many times doesn’t sound very good. It comes off as lazy writing. Particular to promotional writing, it’s expected that you state your claim a number of times, but too much repetition can start to sound overly sales-y. And that is sure to turn off prospective clients.
6. Break Up Sections with Sub-Headings
This is more to improve and structure the flow of ideas, especially if the piece of writing is lengthy. Headings and sub-headings serve a valuable purpose. Plus, you can use the opportunity to incorporate keywords that make your content more searchable on the Web. Just make sure the titles of your headings are indicative of what’s coming next in the text itself. Misleading headlines are not good for business.
We see it all the time in all kinds of words: toward and towards, anyway and anyways, afterward and afterwards. Generally speaking, these words have the same meaning with or without the “s,” and both are correct, grammatically speaking.
For some reason, people tend to think that adding or removing this magical “s” can have the power to change words and meanings completely. Luckily, this is a simple concern to address because that is not the case.
There are, however, some minute differences that are worth knowing for the sake of distinction. Let’s use the above examples to see how an “s” at the end of the word can make a difference.
Toward vs. Towards
This rule applies to most words that are written with and without an “s” at the end. Using toward without the “s” is more common in US English, whereas towards with the “s” is more common to British English. Canadian English seems to take rules from both countries for their own use, although it should more closely resemble British language customs.
Anyway vs. Anyways
Depending on how much of a stickler the wordsmith you consult happens to be, this distinction can be viewed in two ways. Anyway without the “s” is the preferred correct term, appropriately used in formal writing. Anyways with an “s,” its more colloquial counterpart, is more often heard in spoken language, earning its correctness through its wide use. So, although some may tell you that anyways is wrong, it is technically correct. It’s just advisable to avoid. Especially in professional writing, this is an instance where you should drop the “s.”
Afterward vs. Afterwards
Similar (yet different) from the above principle, the “s” in afterwards should be dropped in professional or formal writing. Both forms are grammatically correct; it’s just better to reserve that “s” for conversational purposes.