The Grammar Factor – as versus like, annexure and appendix

April 2012

As versus like

A reader pointed out a grammar error in The Sydney Morning Herald. The sentence read:

‘Like any market in oversupply, price competition has taken hold…’

Many of you probably read that sentence and thought, ‘What’s wrong with it?’ The problem is that many people say like is a preposition, not a conjunction, and so should not be used as a joining word. They believe like as a preposition should be used to introduce phrases that indicate similarities (Ann is like her mother).

But in general usage, like has been used as a conjunction since the 18th century. Even so, using like as a conjunction is a major ‘pet hate’ according to a Plain English campaign survey in 2004. If you care about this distinction, replace like with as if, as with or as though.

Like (As with) any market in oversupply, price competition has taken hold…
Malcolm said it looked like (as if) it might rain.
Joanna looked like (as though) she wanted to cry.

PerfectIt versus StyleWriter

A couple of months ago, I mentioned PerfectIt, an online editing program. A colleague wrote that StyleWriter is better value. Although it is a US product, it has an Australian version.

For more information, and to trial the product, visit:

In my opinion, you’re better to edit manually than rely on software.

Annexure and appendix

Reader’s question: What is the difference between an annexure and an appendix?

Answer: In board papers, I see these terms used interchangeably, but according to my research, while both are supplementary documents, an appendix provides additional information whereas an annexure is a complete document in itself.

PS The plural of appendix is appendices (derived from the Latin) or appendixes (English plural) and an annexure is also known as an annex, with the plural annexes.

Pole position

Thanks for all the feedback I received about ‘pole position’. I learned that although the term came from horseracing when poles were used to mark the racecourse, the term is also used in motor racing. A driver has the pole position when they start at the front of the grid.
Readers’ recommendations

Why words are dying
This article states that many words are dying out as spelling becomes more standardised, but some die out when more dominant words win. For example, ‘X-ray’ and ‘radiogram’ have wiped out the word ‘roentgenogram’, which was widely used initially because William Röntgen discovered X-rays. (Roentgenogram is still in the Macquarie Dictionary.)

A picture of language
Did you know the art of diagramming sentences was invented 165 years ago by S.W. Clark, a US schoolmaster? I have never been sure about the value of diagramming sentences; this article raises, but doesn’t answer, that question.

Evolution of the web
A graphic look at the web’s evolution:

Social media

A couple of years ago, I had a brief attempt at social media and backed off. My impetus for starting again is that Google ranks you more highly if you use social media. Having started again, I can see its charms. The challenge is to not become too addicted! And to maintain the momentum.

My grammar blog is at and my other links are at the top of the newsletter.

Quote of the month

‘Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.’
Bernard Malamud, US author


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