English use of Such and such as

What is the difference between such and such as?

The use of such as is relatively simple. It is used with a noun to introduce examples:

He likes playing sports such as tennis, football and swimming.
At such times as Christmas and Easter, many people take holidays.

The use of such is more complicated. In Practical English Usage (Michael Swan, Oxford University Press), the following principle uses of such are described:

1) In the formal style, such + noun can be used to mean ‘like this / that’ or ‘of the kind that has just been mentioned’. Such comes before a / an.

The committee is thinking of raising the subscription. I would oppose such a decision.
There are various ways of composing secret messages. Such systems are called ‘codes’ or ‘ciphers’.

p. 568

2) Such is often used when we are talking about a high degree of some quality – in situations where very is also a suitable word. In this sense, such is common before adjective + noun.

I’m sorry you had such a bad journey. (= You had a very bad journey, and I’m sorry).
It was a pleasure to meet such interesting people.

p. 569

3) In an informal style, such can also be used to give new information, when the speaker wishes to emphasise what is said.

He’s such an idiot!
She has such a marvellous voice!

p. 569

Note also the difference between such and so. We use such before a noun (with or without an adjective).

It’s such good weather at the moment
They are such clowns!

We use so before an adjective on its own (without a noun) or an adverb.

The weather is so good at the moment.
Please don’t speak so quickly.

English use of Lest

“Does the word before in the following sentences have the same meaning as the word lest?”
You have to leave now before you miss the last train.
You have to hurry up before you miss the train.
I have to give him $10,000 before he tells the police that I was there.
We have to bribe her before she talks.
You have to do all you can before she leaves you.
We have to give them the money before they continue blackmailing us.
We have to introduce this computer before we waste a lot of time and energy.

The Cambridge Online Dictionary gives the following definition for lest:

in order to prevent any possibility that (something will happen)
They were afraid to complain about the noise lest they annoyed the people next door.
Lest you think the film is too violent, I must assure you that it is not.

In Practical English Usage – New Edition (Oxford University Press, 1997), Michael Swan explains:

“Lest has a similar meaning to in case or so that … not. It is very rare in modern British English, and is found mostly in older literature and in ceremonial language. It is a little more common in formal American English.
They kept watch all night lest robbers should come.
We must take care lest evil thoughts enter our hearts.

Lest can be followed by a subjunctive verb.
The government must take immediate action, lest the problem of child poverty grow worse.

For fear that is used in a similar way, and is also unusual in modern English.
He hid in the woods for fear that the soldiers would find him.”

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So, as far as the examples provided by our reader are concerned, whether or not before can be substituted by lest depends on how the speaker sees the action or event that s/he is trying to avoid. If s/he is sure that the action or event is going to take place, then before is better. If s/he is not so sure, then lest is better. Thus:
You have to do all you can before she leaves you.
You have to do all you can lest she leaves you.

In the first sentence, the speaker is sure that she is going to leave, whether or not the other person does all he can, and therefore before is better. In the second sentence, the speaker believes that doing something can prevent her leaving, and so lest is better.

The same criteria (how certain the speaker feels) can be applied to the other examples.

Conjunctions – Expressing contrast in English

When we want to make two points, and emphasise that one of them contrasts with the other, there are a number of different words and expressions that we can use.

Probably the most common and simplest word to use is the conjunction but. It comes between the two clauses that you wish to contrast:
The team was beaten, but Paul scored three goals.
I don’t like most sweet food, but I love chocolate.

Although is also a conjunction, and can come either at the beginning of a sentence, or between the two clauses that you wish to contrast:
Although it was raining, they went on a picnic.
They went on a picnic although it was raining.

Though can be used in exactly the same way, and is more common in informal speech:
Though it was raining, they went on a picnic.
They went on a picnic though it was raining.

If we use even though in this way, the word even stresses that what follows is surprising:
Even though he’s almost ninety, he’s entered the marathon.

Though can also be used as an adverb, to mean however (see below).
Frogs, though, are amphibians and not reptiles.
“Strange place, isn’t it?” “Yes. Very interesting, though.”

Even so also means however (see below), and comes at the beginning of the sentence:
They come from a very rich family. Even so, they’re really mean with their money.

However, nevertheless, mind you, still, yet, and in spite of this can all be used as adverbs to show that something you are saying contrasts with something else.

However and nevertheless emphasise the fact that the second thing that you are saying contrasts with the first. Nevertheless is more formal.
The children had a lovely day. However, they arrived home very sunburnt.
The government vowed to reduce inflation. Nevertheless, one year later, the rate has increased by 3 percent.

We use mind you and still to introduce whatever contrasts as an afterthought:
He’s a horrible man. Mind you, many people like him.
The weather was awful all week. Still, we had a nice rest.

Yet, still and in spite of this all emphasise that something is surprising, considering what has already been said:
He’s been an invalid since he was a child and yet has had a brilliant career.
United were four goals down at halftime, and were still able to win the game.
He claims that he’s a vegetarian. In spite of this, he does enjoy a bit of ham every now and again.

In spite of can also be used as a preposition. In spite of + noun is very similar to although + clause (see above):
He looks very fit in spite of his age (=although he’s very old)
He went to the gym in spite of his broken leg (=although he had a broken leg)

In spite of can be followed by an -ing form.
In spite of not being able to swim, she survived for almost an hour in the sea.

We can also use despite in the same way as in spite of in more formal English:
He was considered for the position despite his lack of experience.

Use of Conjunctions in English

Conjunctions are words that join clauses together to make sentences, and show how the meanings of the clauses relate to each other.

There are so many explanations of and activities on conjunctions on the world wide web that we have chosen here to simply direct you to some sites that provide good explanations, and others that offer quizzes.

For a brief explanation of some common conjunctions see our:

Grammar definitions.

Conjunctions explained:

Try the following quizzes on conjunctions:

To see hundreds of examples of the use of conjunctions, see the Web concordancer:

English use of Conjunctions – additions

When we want to add information to what we (or someone else) has said, there are a number of different words and expressions that we can use.

Probably the most common and simplest two words to use are the adverbs too and also.

Too (adverb): (esp. at the end of a sentence) in addition, also
I’d like to come too.
You’ll need dictionaries – and bring a notebook too.
“I love Thornton’s chocolates.” “I like them too./INFORMAL Me too.”

Cambridge Online Dictionary.

Also (adverb): additionally
She’s a photographer and also writes books.
I’m cold, and I’m also hungry and tired.

Cambridge Online Dictionary.

The following words and expressions can also be used to add information:

Additionally (adverb):
We were additionally (=as well as everything else) faced with trying to find somewhere to stay at two o’clock in the morning.
Additionally, we request a deposit of $200 in advance.

Cambridge Online Dictionary.

(And) another thing: is used to introduce one more in a series of arguments or complaints.
And another thing, why didn’t you tell me you were going out?
As well (as) (that): in addition (to)
Invite Emlyn – and Simon as well.
I want to visit Andrew as well as Martin.
He is rich and as well as that he’s generous.

Besides (adverb, preposition): in addition to; also
Do you play any other sports besides ice-skating and darts?
She told me that she has two other cars besides the one she drives to work.
I’ve had job offers from two firms of international lawyers and plenty more besides.
She won’t mind your being late – besides, it’s hardly your fault.

Furthermore (adverb) FORMAL: in addition; more importantly
I suggest we go to the Italian restaurant – it’s very good and furthermore it’s very cheap.
I don’t know what happened to Rupert Ford and furthermore I don’t care.

In addition: You use in addition when you want to mention another item connected with the subject you are discussing.
The workers have not been paid for two months. In addition, we owe our suppliers £50,000.

In any case: (=and also)
I don’t want to go and in any case, I haven’t been invited.

Moreover (adverb) FORMAL: (used to add information) also and more importantly
It was a good car, and it was, moreover, a fair price they were asking for it.

On top of (that) : in addition to (esp. something unpleasant)
We missed the train, and on top of that we had to wait for two hours for the next one.
On top of his late arrival, he was drunk!

What’s more: (additionally and more importantly)
He won the race, and what’s more, he broke the world record.