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Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, __ (?) __ journalists must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.

In that sentence I was supposed to choose the right answer from these options:
alike, similar to, exactly and just as. The answer is just as. Can you explain to me why the option alike is not possible?

3 Answers 3

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When comparing two predicates (has quills....has needles) we use "as".

A porcupine has quills just as a cactus has needles.

When we wish to say two nouns (e.g. cactus, porcupine) share a feature, we say they are similar to each other or that they are alike.

The cactus is similar to the porcupine.

The cactus and the porcupine are alike.

The expression exactly the same means that something is identical to something else.

I have been stuck by a porcupine, and I have been stuck by a cactus. The pain was exactly the same.

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Alike is an adjective. What you need here is a conjunction. "Just as" is effectively a conjugation.

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  • "Alike" can be an adjective or an adverb. In neither form is does it work in this sentence. If one joined the sentences with "just as," then "as" would be a conjunction, modified with the adverb "just."
    – Adam
    Jan 23, 2015 at 20:19
  • @Adam - What you say is true, but if alike were in this sentence, it would function as an adjective (alike journalists).
    – J.R.
    Jan 24, 2015 at 11:30
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Just As

Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, just as journalists must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.

If one joined the sentences with "just as," then "as" would be a conjunction, modified with the adverb "just." This is an efficient, natural way to express this. Note that this is comparing the idea of need for an eye with the idea of need for a nose.

Similar to

Similar can be made to work in a couple of ways

Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, similar to journalists, who must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.

Here, we are comparing photographers with journalists. Photographers are similar to journalists. Additional verbiage specifies how.

Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news; Similarly, journalists must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.

Now we are using the adverbial form, similarly, and we are again comparing the existence of two needs, rather than comparing photographers vs. journalists directly.

Exactly

Exactly can be an adverb modifying as (See the first example, with just.)

Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, exactly as journalists must have a ‘nose’ for a good story

This is grammatical, but doesn't sound as smooth to me as using just did.

Alike

"Alike" can be an adjective or an adverb. In neither form is does it work well in this sentence. In dated English, you might see:

Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, alike as journalists, who must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.

...but this sounds biblical and weird in this context. I think it is grammatical, but it is far from idiomatic.

Just like

J.R. points out in the comments that just like can be used also. The totally non-controversial way would be like this:

Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, just like journalists, who must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.

Like is a preposition, just is an adverb.

Another option exists:

Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, just like journalists must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.

Here like is being used as a conjunction. This is not its historical function, and many people consider it wrong. I avoid using like as a conjunction, but I am including it because one does hear/see this construction frequently, at least in the U.S.

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  • If anyone can correct me or assure me on the historical (grammatical?) usage of alike, please do!
    – Adam
    Jan 23, 2015 at 22:53
  • 1
    I agree that alike as sounds weird here, but just like could work: Good press photographers must have an ‘eye’ for news, just like journalists must have a ‘nose’ for a good story.
    – J.R.
    Jan 24, 2015 at 11:32

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