“She was like, no.”


Walking on East 28th Street today, Sunday, I passed a bagel place. Two young women were chatting at a table outside, One said (talking about a third person not present), “She was like, no. I was like … ”


The use of like — how would one define it grammatically? an intensifier? — has become common among a younger generation; is something new, in terms of idiomatic usage.

Well how about my generation? I grew up in the 50s.

Cool and square. Can you dig it must have sounded strange to our parents’ and grandparents’ ears.

Like is used to signify something without being specific. She was like, angry. She was like, I can’t stand this. She may have actually said this, or said this in essence but not in these exact words.

English lends itself to flexibility and inventiveness. Think of Shakespeare, Chaucer.

This grammar purist wholly endorses like. Or at least doesn’t object to it


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   March 5, 2023




Like here seems to function as an intensifier, but that may not be the correct grammatical term. Perhaps there is no precise term to classify it.

intensifier — a word, especially an adverb or adjective, that has little meaning itself but is used to add force to another adjective, verb, or adverb: In the phrases an extremely large man and I strongly object, extremely and strongly are both intensifiers.



Addendum, March 10, 2023

A friend of mine has pointed out that the grammatical classification of like is not so simple.

Let’s say one hears said: I got a C minus on my paper and I was, like, in a state of shock.

This is an example of an exaggerated statement that is almost parodies the words used. Because what the speaker is saying — means — is that they were surprised and not happy to get such a low grade but they by no means mean to imply that a state of shock was an actuality – the situation was actually a lot less bad.

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