How do young people now use the word like?
Many people, especially youngsters, are now in the habit of inserting like into almost every sentence they utter. The word features in their speech so frequently because it is used in a variety of different ways:
- As a colloquial quotative particle.
He said that the dog was like, “preparing to attack”.
The use of a particle instead of verb to introduce a quotation is relatively common. But it is only in recent years that like has been utilised in this way.
- As a discourse particle in order to hedge.
I think he is, like, crazy
Here, the word like is used as a hedge when the speaker is trying to moderate the impact of what they are saying. Using like in this way suggests that the speaker is unsure about the veracity of what they are saying or that it might be an exaggeration.
- As a discourse particle which is a filler.
I have been thinking about where to go tomorrow as, like, it might rain
The word like is used here in place of um or ah. The word signals that the speaker is pausing and prevents other from interrupting.
- As a means of indicating that the speaker is about to counter the expectation of their listener.
There was, like, a heatwave in Iceland
Here, the speaker is aware that what they are about to say might be unexpected or surprising.