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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Basics of Writing Well and Miss Teen SC

Yesterday, while re-writing and proof-reading my paper manuscript for the umpteenth time, I suddenly had an epiphany. One of the basic rules of writing, hammered into me by several Professors, is to be careful while using the word "like". A common mistake many of us make is using the word "like" when the correct usage would be "such as". Here's an explanation. So when I am going over my manuscripts, I search for the word "like" and most of the times, replace it with "such as".

Now, we are all aware of the recent overuse of the word "like" in conversations in the US. Rightly or wrongly, the overuse is associated more with young women, especially those of the blond persuasion. So whenever someone is portraying a bimbo on TV, a lot of "like"s are thrown in. I have advised a lot of my students to avoid using the word "like" so many times when making presentations, because it is jarring and distracting, besides being grammatically incorrect.

And in these two factoids lies the answer to Miss Teen South Carolina Caitlin Upton's now legendary response, especially the odd overuse of the phrase "like such as". She must have been in the habit of saying "like" all the time. So a trainer or consultant must have told her that saying "like" after every phrase makes her sound stupid, and to avoid that and sound smarter, she should try using the phrase "such as" instead. Caitlin probably got the advice wrong or implemented it badly, so instead of replacing 'like' with 'such as', she used both. And hence all the "such as"-es, which have no business being there.

Think about it! Like such as, seriously!

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