From the good old Oxford dictionary, here are correct ways in which to use the word “like:”
“Like” can be a preposition, a conjunction, a noun, an adjective, an adverb,. Standard usage of “like” in the sentence ‘he’s behaving like he owns the place,’ like is a conjunction meaning ‘as if’, a usage regarded as incorrect in standard English. Although like has been used as a conjunction in this way since the 15th century by many respected writers, it is still frowned upon and considered unacceptable in formal English, where as if should be used instead.”
The word “like” was never meant to be a pause, or a stand-in for “er,” ‘um,’ ‘hmm,’ and so forth. It has become a social thing and everyone seems to say it all the time.
The Crankee Yankee and I were having lunch at a restaurant, and behind us was a table of three young women probably in their mid-20s. I can honestly say that I have never heard so many “likes” in my life. I desperately wanted to ask them to “like, stop using ‘like’ like all the, like, time. It’s like, so overdone, like, you know, like, what I mean?”
When I was student teaching in college, my students were what was then called junior high kids (now it’s “middle school”). The prevailing word for nearly everything was “mental.” Teachers and parents were “mental.” The lunch line at school was mental. Homework was mental. I thought I would lose my mind, listening to “mental, mental, mental” all day long.
But things like this are cultural, just has “like” has become overused and abused. As I get older, things like this seem to grate on my nerves more than ever. It’s a lot like having someone jab you with a sharp pin every two seconds; “like, like, like.”
But that’s how culture goes; some phrases or words become popular and off we go, using them over and over again. Although to my ears it signals a lack of good word usage, but that’s my age talking.
Who knows what the next irritating word or phrase may be; God save us all.