The terms such as & like, when they introduce examples, can be translated different ways depending on the context:

  • tel
  • tel que
  • comme
  • notamment
  • par exemple
  • entre autres

For tel que, it’s important to remember that tel que s’accorde avec ce qui précède et non avec ce qui suit. So we should say De belles histoires, telles que celle du Petit Chaperon rouge and not De belles histoires, telle que celle du Petit Chaperon rouge.

For tel, it’s the other way around, so it’s De belles histoires, telle celle du Petit Chaperon rouge and not De belles histoires, telles celle du Petit Chaperon rouge.

For comme, the subject of this post, we have to be careful to use a comma before when it is ambiguous, otherwise it introduces a comparison instead of an example (see below). In general, however, we don’t like to use comme, for the reason above and because it’s too informal for most texts.

Two years ago, we were translating a large hotel chain website, and one sentence read “Enjoy a light meal, such as giant shrimp”.

The translation became “Dégustez un repas léger comme une crevette géante”, which backtranslates as “Enjoy a meal as light as a giant shrimp”, which sounds like some weird haiku-type poetry!

Of course “Dégustez un repas léger, comme une crevette géante” would have been more accurate, although it does not sound quite right either.

We maintained a list of such funny random comparisons for a while, but I’ve lost it. I’m sure it’s possible to find a lot on the web.

Please, never use comme par exemple, but rather either comme or par exemple.

Finally, note that in patent translation, the only form that should be used is tel que, as it is the less ambiguous according to the lawyers.