I'd like to get some comments from the esteemed experts here about proper usage of "such as" versus "like" versus well, are there alternatives?
To take a concrete and (I hope) accessible example, suppose I want to express the idea "vehicles in the class of vehicles exemplified by SUVs are big." Here are some choices I can think of:

(1) "Vehicles like SUVs are big."
(2) "Vehicles such as SUVs are big."
(3) "Vehicles, such as SUVs, are big."
(4) "SUVs and other similar vehicles are big."
I'm uncomfortable with (1) because I vaguely remember reading somewhere that to the pedantic, "vehicles like SUVs" means "vehicles that are like* SUVs, but *not SUVs." Being pedantic myself, I'd prefer not to step on the sensibilities of my fellow pedants.

Up until about a week ago I would have written (2) and not thought more about it. But two copyeditor types assure me that this is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong clauses beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas.
That would make (3) correct, but IMO this shifts the meaning I want "such as SUVs" to be a restrictive clause (if that terminology makes sense here) rather than a non-restrictive clause something that can't be removed without changing the meaning.
One of the copyeditor types approves of (4), and there's something to be said for that, but it seems to shift the emphasis a bit from the whole class (vehicles) to the exemplar (SUVs).
So, assembled experts, some questions:
(a) Which do you prefer?
(b) Do you agree that clauses beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas?
(c) Do you agree that (2) and (3) don't quite mean the same thing?

(d) Other comments or advice?
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I'd like to get some comments from the esteemed experts here about proper usage of "such as" versus "like" versus well, are there alternatives?

I am not an expert, and esteemed perhaps more by myself than by anyone else here, but here goes...
To take a concrete and (I hope) accessible example, suppose I want to express the idea "vehicles in the class ... bit from the whole class (vehicles) to the exemplar (SUVs). So, assembled experts, some questions: (a) Which do you prefer?

1 or 2. At a pinch, 2. No reason I can identify, it just sounds nicer tomy mind's ear. The pedantic objection you mention doesn't hold water, nor the ambiguity that some may suggest, i.e. that "like" could be misunderstood as a verb... (it would make no sense here to raise that objection, but just in case)
(b) Do you agree that clauses beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas?

Absolutely not. Only when they are parenthetical. Your copyeditor types need to learn one or two intricacies before making such sweeping generalisations.
(c) Do you agree that (2) and (3) don't quite mean the same thing?

Absolutely. (2) means that vehicles which can somehow considered as similar SUVs (the criteria for that judgement is not fixed here) are big. (3) means that vehicles are big, and informs us (in case we weren't sure what a vehicle is) that an SUV is a good example of a vehicle, even perhaps the generic embodiment of vehicularity.
(d) Other comments or advice?

(4) works fine - if you don't want to make that shift, then why mention SUVs specifically? I would personally put commas around the "and other similar vehicles", but that would make the shift you mention much stronger.

Other advice: send your copywriter types to aue.

Redwine
Hamburg
(previously: Berlin, Northants, Derbs, Staffs, NSW, Tasmania, Melbourne, rural Victoria, in that and many other orders)
I'd like to get some comments from the esteemed experts here about proper usage of "such as" versus "like" versus ... me that this is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong clauses beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas.

Rubbish.
That would make (3) correct, but IMO this shifts the meaning I want "such as SUVs" to be a ... bit from the whole class (vehicles) to the exemplar (SUVs). So, assembled experts, some questions: (a) Which do you prefer?

(1). I understand the pedants' argument, but this way of using "like" is well established and perfectly well understood. It's hard to judge from your example sentence though, because it's a bit trite. Substitute "big" for something like "gas-guzzlers" or "the fashionable way for London mums to transport little Tommy to play-school" and it's clear that (3) is not what is intended.
(b) Do you agree that clauses beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas?

No.
(c) Do you agree that (2) and (3) don't quite mean the same thing?

Yes.
Adrian
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
(a) Which do you prefer?

I prefer (5): "SUVs and similar vehicles are big."
(b) Do you agree that clauses beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas?

I wouldn't say "must always", but I can't think
of any counter-examples.
(c) Do you agree that (2) and (3) don't quite mean the same thing?

They are both ambiguous, so it's difficult to
say what they mean. You'd probably do better
with a construction like this:
(6) "Large vehicles, such as SUVs, are
dangerous in a collision."
(d) Other comments or advice?

Take your copyeditor to lunch.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia
How about: "Newsgroups such as AUE attract many interesting questions"? Commas would change the meaning. Okay, you can replace "such as" with "like," but you don't have to.
The situation is the same with two of the original sentences in the original inquiry (cut and pasted back in):
(2) "Vehicles such as SUVs are big."
(3) "Vehicles, such as SUVs, are big."
No. 2 creates a class of vehicles that includes SUVs and others like them. They are big.
No. 3 implies that SUVs are a sub-class of vehicles and that all vehicles are big. This cannot be what is meant.
If you're ordered to comply with a phony "rule" that "such as" constructions such as the one in the two above examples must have the "such as" phrase set off by commas, then you have the choice of (1) saying what you do not mean, (2) never using the construction in situations like the one above or (3) violating the "rule." Facing compulsion, I'd go with (2). Left to make my own choice without compulsion, I'd violate the "rule."

Bob Lieblich
Such help as I can give
I wouldn't say "must always", but I can't think of any counter-examples.

How about: "Newsgroups such as AUE attract many interesting questions"? Commas would change the meaning. Okay, you can replace "such as" with "like," but you don't have to.

The sentence is fine, but it is not perfectly clear whether AUE illustrates the class "newsgroups" or a subclass. I think I would have to rely on context to tell me which was the more likely interpretation.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia
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First, a belated "thank you!" to those of you who replied. Now some follow-up.
Up until about a week ago I would have written ... beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas.

One of copyeditor types in question is a shadowy figure who has been hired to work on a book I'm co-authoring. I don't have direct contact with this person (everything goes through at least one other person there seem to be a lot of players involved in this business of getting from "manuscript" to finished book, and some of them are rather shadowy figures to us authors), so my claim was based on the correction he/she is making in our text, plus a little correspondence through an intermediary. When I checked back through a couple of chapters' worth of corrections, I discovered that only some of our "such as" phrases were getting commas added. So, onward to answer people's specific responses ...

( snip )
(b) Do you agree that clauses beginning "such as" must always be set off with commas?

Absolutely not. Only when they are parenthetical. Your copyeditor types need to learn one or two intricacies before making such sweeping generalisations.

Apparently he/she isn't really making that generalization. I'm not sure I understand what rule is being applied, but apparently it's not the sweeping "always use commas" one I at first assumed.

( snip )
Other advice: send your copywriter types to aue.

Easier said than done, given the situation as described above! (Or maybe that should be "earlier" that's another correction that's being applied to our prose!)
( snip )
Take your copyeditor to lunch.

As I said in my reply to Professor Redwine's post easier said than done. As I understand it, the complete cast of people involved in this book-production project includes people scattered from coast to coast in the U.S. and some folks in India, and I have no direct contact with the copyeditor and no idea about location. This all seems to work, but it has its disorienting aspects!
Take your copyeditor to lunch.

As I said in my reply to Professor Redwine's post easier said than done. As I understand it, the ... contact with the copyeditor and no idea about location. This all seems to work, but it has its disorienting aspects!

Just wondering does your copy editor insist on a single-word spelling of that job title? I found nine dictionaries spelling it as two words, two as a single word, and none with a hyphenated version. What is done, though, is copyediting, as nine dictionaries agree.
I've checked only those dictionaries that are available through onelook.com.
Skitt (in Hayward, California)
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