I read a lot of English books, and I have noticed that when authors need to list examples of something, they tend to use "such things as" rather than "things such as", although they both sound correct. The latter even seems to have a better structure, since it doesn't split the "such as" (a phrase commonly used to indicate examples).

Is there any subtle difference in meaning between the two? Why is the former preferred?

For example:

Eventually, the device becomes stable, but its final state is unpredictable since it is based on such things as construction differences and thermal noise.

  • I only have intuition here and no real idea. I agree that we are slightly more likely to use "such things as," and I agree that the two sentences mean the same. – hunter Dec 17 '13 at 13:22
  • Somehow I feel such things as sounds a little more familiar. (Perhaps because of TANSTAAFL.) Imho, I think such things as is preferred in spoken English, and things such as in writing. But anyhow, I'm a non-native speaker too. – Damkerng T. Dec 17 '13 at 13:31
  • Likewise, the former doesn't split the phrase "such things" by the insertion of "as". :) – Kaz Dec 17 '13 at 16:07

I'm a native speaker of British English and believe that "such things as" is less likely to be used in a spoken context. Naturally I would tend to list out a few things such as a,b or c and rarely if ever have I ever said "such things as". I think that is something to be found in formal literature.

However they are both correct and accomplish the same goal it just depends on how technical the author wants to get.

I found this very relevant thread on wordrefrence which gets into the syntactical difference. I hope this helps :)


The former is preferred in formal writing. The latter is often used to refer a list of objects. Typically things such as is used to list out large number of objects.

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