37 ‘such as’

'such as'

Carol Lynn Moder

The expression such as is used to provide specific examples to illustrate the category named by the noun or noun phrase that comes immediately before it.

In the sentence from 1 above, repeated here, the writer makes the general category basic foods more specific by naming the list of examples that follow such as. These are hamburgers, tacos, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs.

A large percent (=90%) of the students knew how to make basic foods such as hamburgers, tacos, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs.

5a shows us a slightly different use of such as

5a.  Silver (1996) demonstrated how college students use objects either as “anchors” to maintain previous identities or as “markers” to construct new identities. Anchor objects, such as dolls or baseball cards, were those left at home, while marker objects, such as photographs or music, were those brought into the college dorms.

 

In the first sentence in 5a, the writers are introducing key terms – anchors and markers -from previous research. In the next sentence, they further explain what these terms mean by stating that anchor objects are those students left at home, while marker objects are those students brought with them to college. They provide specific examples to help the reader understand what each type of object might be with the terms following such as – dolls or baseball cards and photographs or music . Note that in this example, the such as phrase is separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. The commas help to separate the examples in the such as phrase from the rest of the sentence. In this case the items mentioned in the such as phrase provide additional information. We know that the phrases provide additional information because the sentence would be grammatically acceptable and understandable if we leave out the examples in the such as phrase, as we see in 5b.

 

5b. Anchor objects were those left at home, while marker objects were those brought into the college dorms.

 

Phrases using such as are:

  • inserted into a complete sentence or main clause,
    • o Complete sentence

Anchor objects were those left at home.

  • immediately after the noun that the examples are specifying
    • o Insertion

Anchor objects, such as dolls or baseball cards, were those left at home.

 

Punctuation for such as

If:

  • such as follows a general noun,

General nouns that often come before such as include:

items, things, issues, areas, factors, variables, activities, events

  • the phrase that follows gives short specific examples from the category the general noun describes

then it may occur without commas before such as

          (As we see in 1 and 2)

 

Otherwise, such as should have a comma before it.

 

If the examples not at the end of the sentence and are followed by a long phrase, there should also be a comma after them.

(As we see in 5a.)

 

NOTE: If you are in doubt, it is better to separate the such as phrase with commas, than to omit the commas.  Using the commas will make it easier for the reader to follow your sentence.

 

SENTENCE FRAGMENT WARNING

Such as must be inserted into a complete main clause; it cannot stand by itself in a separate sentence.

Students left anchor objects at home. Such as dolls or baseball cards.

THIS IS NOT GRAMMATICAL!

Such as must be attached to the same sentence in which the noun it specifies appears.

 

WORD ORDER WARNING

The such as phrase must directly follow the noun that it specifies; it cannot be put elsewhere in the clause.

Students left anchor objects at home, such as dolls or baseball cards.

 

THIS IS NOT GRAMMATICAL! The such as specifies the category anchor objects, so it must come directly after this noun phrase.

Punctuation Exercise: Such as

Look at the following examples from a research article and explain why the authors use or do not use a comma.

The authors argued that some of our emotions, such as disgust, are learned through our interaction with others in food related activities.

Several individuals described items such as fruit salad, homemade bread, or homemade cookies as their comfort food.

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'such as' by Carol Lynn Moder is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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