The “Like” Word Threatens Your Career

  edgood  —  Grammar Tips

In my last blog, we looked at some grammar governing the use of the like word. Now let’s see what the experts have to say. As you’ll see, they mince no words.

Overusing Like Threatens Your Career

Consider the views of the experts:

New Fowler

By the mid-20c., however, [the use of like] as an incoherent and prevalent filler had reached the proportions of an epidemic, and it is now scorned by standard speakers as a vulgarism of the first order. New Fowler, p. 459.

Garner Oxford

Since the 1980s, be like is also a juvenile colloquialism equivalent to said in relating a conversation—e.g.: “And I was like, ‘Yes, I do.’ But he was like, ‘No you don’t. And so I was like, ‘If you’re just going to contradict me, then . . . .’“ In teenagers, this usage is all but ubiquitous. In adults, it shows arrested development. Garner Oxford, p. 212.

Urge your children to stay away from tobelike. Point out that saying “She was like tall” says nothing at all. And vigorously stress that grunts and groans and “like . . . ah . . . like this” and “like . . . um . . . ah . . . like that” peg the speaker as one who has some work to do before taking control of the language.

And if you write or talk for a living—as most of us do—try the exercise yourself. Listen to your own patterns of speech. I have a friend, my age, in his 60s. He has picked up the like habit from his teenager.

If you use tobelike and misuse the like word, just stop it. If you need help, check out the nine-step program outlined at this website: (Ignore the statement in Step One that there are only two correct uses of like. From the last edition of Good’s Grammar, you know that like can serve as seven of the eight parts of speech.)

So break the habit. Try it out.

You’llbelike, “Whoa!”

Next Blog

In my next blog, coming soon, we’ll explore the rules on the proper placement of adverbs.


We hope you have enjoyed, and profited from, this discussion on the awful “like” word. If you have, we hope you’ll tell your friends about You may download an expanded discussion of the “like” word in our downloads section. It’s free! Download it and send it to your friends. Download it and make your children read it. Download it and heed it.

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Understanding the Parts of Speech
Rules on Punctuation
Common Grammatical Mistakes
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Ed Good
Author of A Grammar Book for You and I … Oops, Me!
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