Like … A Dirty Little Four-Letter Word

Today’s Dirty Word Is Like …

No, I’m not referring to an obscenity or cuss word. Today’s dirty little four-letter word is Like. As in …

“It’s like … ya know?”

Of course we have all heard teenagers over-using this word, peppering their speech with it constantly. However, teenagers are not the only ones guilty of dropping the “like-bomb.” Unfortunately, the language of teenagers is slowly infiltrating professional speech and writing.

Most adults and professionals do not use the word like in the same way that teenagers do, but it has become an easy replacement for more formal and professional phrases. Make yourself aware of how often you use the word like, even if you think that you are using it correctly. You may be amazed at how often it creeps into everyday conversation.

How Not To Use Like

Here are some examples of how the word like is misused in everyday speech and a better way to state the same idea.

It’s like I said earlier … can be better stated as Just as I said earlier …

Here are some more misuses and possible corrections:

It’s like I dreamed it all. >>> It’s as though I dreamed it all.

It’s like he has no idea what he’s doing. >>> Does he have any idea what he’s doing?

Or you can get right to the point and say:

He has no idea what he’s doing.

This project [it] is like a train wreck. >>> This project has turned into a train wreck.

It’s like I’ve been here before. >>> It seems as though I’ve been here before.

I like skiing. He likes her a lot. They always like to know ahead of time. >>> I enjoy skiing. He’s very fond of her. They always prefer to know ahead of time.

A more professional vocabulary can do great things for your reputation as a writer. Because let’s face it, the word like is boring.

If the word it’s and the word like appear next to each other in a sentence, you are probably falling victim to teen-think. It’s like is the first indicator that your sentence or idea needs some restructuring. Besides, why use the word like when there are so many other creative options that sound more mature and professional. Not only will your speech (and you) be taken more seriously, but you will sound as though you’ve put more thought into your words.

Use Your Professional Vocabulary

Once you start thinking about how often you use the word “like,” you’ll begin noticing other “lazy” words that you might be over-using. It will become a contagious habit throughout your speech and writing as you find more creative and inventive ways to make your words and thoughts more interesting, and soon you’ll find yourself developing a more professional vocabulary. Perhaps “nice” will become “pleasant” or “courteous.” And maybe “old” will turn into “antiquated” or “elderly.”

More Dirty Words

And since we are talking about sounding professional, I’d like to add one more note here. Like is of course, not the only dirty little four-letter word. There are many of them. And never, are they ever to be used in professional speech or writing.

Not only will you not be taken seriously, others may view you as small-minded, rude, and lacking in both your creativity and your ability to communicate effectively. There are more effective and intimidating ways to get a point across without obscenity.

Creative Dirty Words

Please note above that I said dirty words should not be used in professional writing. The same doesn’t have to apply to creative writing. In my creative writing, I drop the F-bomb all the time. Why? Because that’s just who my characters are. However, even in creative writing, dirty words should be used with care. Don’t overdo it.

Have you ever experienced less-than-professional language in a professional setting? I’d love to hear your experiences with the absurd and offensive.