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Is there a more formal way of saying:

"In most western countries, such as the United States, an increased level of ... has been observed."

Or should such a sentence be rephrased completely?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The phrase "such as" is a formal phrase, and as such, you should feel free to use it in formal writing. (The informal equivalent would be "like": Places like the US have seen an increase in...)

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You can use "like" in formal writing as well. "Painters like Monet, who were concerned with capturing the evanescent impressions of light, were dubbed Impressionists." Where you would not use "like" is as a substitute for as: "As [not like] I mentioned earlier, Monet and his contemporaries were called Impressionists." –  Robusto Apr 4 '11 at 12:50
    
In @JSBangs's answer, 'such as' introduces an example. In @Robusto's comment, 'like' means Monet and other painters similar to him. There is a subtle difference as when we use 'such as' the way JSBangs has, the other examples might not share similarities with the selected one. –  Karl Apr 4 '11 at 14:01
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Some alternatives include:

  • for example
  • for instance

There is a subtle difference between 'such as' and 'like'.

Most western countries, such as the US...

Means

Most western countries, with the US being an example...

On the other hand

Most western countries, like the US...

Could be interpreted as

Most western countries that are similar to the US

Which may not be what you mean.

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I don't know about formality, but if you want to capitalise on the residual popularity of Miss Teen USA 2007 then you could do worse than follow the wonderful precedent set by Miss South Carolina, who responded to the question

“Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?”

with (emphasis added)...

I personally believe, that U.S. Americans, are unable to do so, because uh, some, people out there, in our nation don’t have maps. and uh… I believe that our education like such as in South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like such as… and, I believe they should uh, our education over here, in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”

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On the "rephrase completely" note, I would consider taking the center clause out:

In most western countries, an increased level of ... has been observed

The U.S. is now pretty much the archetype western country, so you're not providing additional information. If you want to emphasize the U.S. is included, then you could use:

In most western countries, including the United States, an increased level of ... has been observed

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protected by RegDwigнt Sep 5 '13 at 23:26

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