Culture and Entertainment

So, Like, Why Do I Like, Use “Like” All the Time?

When and why did we Americans, particularly American young women start using “like” as filler or whatever we are using it for?

I mean like I can’t even discuss this point with my family without saying it like a million times, and I’m homeschooled, I was wondering, like, where or why did I, like, pick it up? I picked it up when I was still mostly around other homeschooled people, and none of our parents talk like that.

I don’t use, “um” except for emphasis, I don’t believe. I know I use “like” instead of “said,” so like “he was like” because I’m not directly quoting and saying “he said something like” or “he said something to the effect of” is so tediously long. There has got to be something in the middle of valley girl and pretentious prig.

I also use it instead of “for example.” Even when I don’t need to, see above “I mean like . . .”

The strange thing is, I don’t write like this or at least to the extreme that I talk like this (this is proper usage, but oh, my stars, I’m annoying myself), except, obviously when I’m trying to imitate myself and make a point about this.

It’s not the word itself, its the sheer number of times I can manage to say it in one thought.

I literally (oh, goody, another over/misused word of mine) searched this. I found this article with the various usages of “like.”

 Why Do People Say Like So Much?

Per this article there are about 3-4 ways to use “like” informally, not quite grammatically. And I use them all. I think lots of us do in addition to the proper usage, and that is how we end up with the “like” overload.

Quotative “like.” This is the one I’d like a good switch for, but the article didn’t give one. I’m not going to simply use “said” when I can’t recall the words. And as the article points out, it covers more than speech, also reaction, now, I can switch that to “I felt like” or “I felt [emotion]” when referencing myself, but I can’t do that when talking about other people.

Approximate adverb “like.” I think I probably do use “like” in speech perhaps more than “about.” And that is an easy, one word switch.

“Like” as a discourse marker and “like” as a discourse particle. This is pure filler usage. This would require pausing, thinking, slowing down.

I don’t think the “for example” usage of “like” falls into any of these usages. In any case, it’s pretty easy to say “for example” if needed or eliminate it if unnecessary.

The last three just require slowing down and thinking. Quotative usage on the other hand . . . as I mentioned (oh, “as” instead of “like”!) is trickier. Using “like” generally can be very defensive. And if I just said “she said” followed by an inexact quote which then gets challenged . . .! I guess that is why “she said something to the effect of” sounds bad too, its long and very defensive.

I looked up how to stop using “like” so much, but I didn’t get a satisfactory response to this usage. People, if it was merely switching to “said” it wouldn’t be that complicated, and we wouldn’t be asking.

Oh, and lots of the articles I looked up featured a photo of Cher from Clueless. The why they talk in that movie is hilarious and feels exaggerated, but I’m not sure it is as much as it feels. I don’t think we are used to hearing in movies how we actually talk.


    • Livia Rose

      I really notice it when I talk about it. I think for me, I don’t know what to do it place of it sometimes, if I had something I could switch out it out for, I would. I’ve done that with other words that are less formal.

  • Elizabeth

    I use the word ‘like’ way too much. My Uncle actually noticed it last year and he started silently counting to see how many times I used it and we’d joke about it. I had no idea I did it so much, but apparently I do. Glad to know that I’m not alone in this problem, although it I’m sure it sucks for you too sometimes.

  • Skye H

    I used to try to talk more formally but now I’ve given up and I use same and like way too much.
    I don’t think it’s too bad, but sometimes I surprise myself. It is interesting to think about.

    • Livia Rose

      I talk a mixture of formal and informal, its just when I feel its sort of out of my choice that I get frustrated. Maybe if I just match my word speed to my much slower brain speed, lol.

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