such as {prepositional phrase} = 1. For example
2. Of a kind that; like
3. (archaic) Those who

I tolerate and so ask NOT about 1 above. Despite this dated 2014 Nov 30 and this dated 2013 Oct 23, I still can't relate definitions 2 and 3 above to 1? Please explain how? What are some intuitive derivations of 2 and 3 that help to remember their meaning? I heed the Etymological Fallacy.

  • In all the cases "such as" is being used to narrow down a generic reference. In 1 it does so by giving examples, in 2 and 3 it does so by specifying properties (and in 3 the generic reference "people" is omitted). – Rupe Jun 23 '14 at 13:36
  • Sentences such as this illustrate sense #2 above. I see relatively little difference between for example and of the type of which this is an example. Archaically, "Such as wish to comment here" would include me, since I'm an example of such people. – FumbleFingers Jun 23 '14 at 13:37
  • 1
    For meaning (3), I found the following through the OED, which only gave a part of it. The complete verse (which shows the usage better) is "While others crowd the house of mirth, And haunt the gaudy show, Let such as would with Wisdom dwell, Frequent the house of woe." —W. Cameron, 1777. – Peter Shor Jun 23 '14 at 13:54
  • @FumbleFingers I can't pinpoint why, but '"Such as wish to comment here" feels grammatically wrong? Would you plaese explain? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jul 1 '14 at 12:00
  • Note the steep decline of and such as have (showing it's effectively "archaic"), and look at some instances of and such as wish. You can interpret the construction as such [people] as [do something/fit some category]. See it as such as = those [people/things/etc.] that [do something], or such as = like. – FumbleFingers Jul 1 '14 at 12:11

2. "Such as" meaning "Of a kind that; like": for example

I have no other information than such as is presented to me in this letter.

In this instance, the implication is something like

I have no other information than [information of] such [a kind] as [i.e. "that" or "which"] is presented to me in this letter.

3. "Such as" meaning "Those who": for example

Such as read this letter will learn of its contents.

The meaning here is to be derived from expanding the sentence in more or less this way:

[Those people of] such [a kind] as [again, sc. "that" or better "who"] read this letter will learn of its contents.

In other words, in both cases the "such" is acting as a nominal, more like a noun than like an adjective, and refers either to a previous noun (as in the first sentence, where it refers to "information") or to an implied noun (as in the second sentence, where the noun "people" can be inferred from the verbs "read" and "learn").

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The origin of the word shows that it originally was also used also as a pronoun 'he', from which probably the n. 3 use.


c.1200, Old English swylc, swilc "just as, as, in like manner; as if, as though;

such a one, he" (pronoun and adjective), from a Proto-Germanic compound *swalikaz "so formed" (cognates: Old Saxon sulik, Old Norse slikr, Old Frisian selik, Middle Dutch selc, Dutch zulk, Old High German sulih, German solch, Gothic swaleiks), from swa "so" (see so) + *likan "form," source of Old English gelic "similar" (see like (adj.)). Colloquial suchlike (early 15c.) is pleonastic.

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