Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | April 24, 2012

Is this… like… a computer ? No way! Using like in English.

There are 3 ways we use the word ‘like’ in English.

The first one, everyone knows: like = aimer. I like chocolate.

The second one, some people know: like = comme. He is like his father.

The third one is more interesting and English people have started throwing it about, practically anywhere in their sentences:

You will find a multitude of examples in the video:

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

There’s also a Catherine Tate video where this comes up:



  1. Hey! I like the Taylor Mali poem!! what’s this guy like by the way? :-p
    I feel these words like, kinda, etc… are very much used in English but it is also the case in French (alors voilà, donc, etc.). They seem to lose all meaning and I wonder if in a way, they are not used in a way to kindaaa have some time to think?!!

  2. The Catherine Tate video shows how these words/phrases can make it sometimes really difficult for our students to catch the actual meaning of a speech.
    I’ll submit these videos to some of my students and see how they react!

  3. I don’t know who the Taylor Mali guy is. I just came across it on the web somewhere, probably at

  4. I used these 2 videos with an upper-intermediate group today and it worked well!
    They actually experienced no particular difficulty when watching Valley Girl because they quickly sorted out the relevant information from the “parasite” phrases “he’s like” and “I’m like”…
    And then I asked my students if they could tell me a story in a similar way and one of them took the lead and did really great! It was really cool actually!!!
    So thank you for these videos!!

  5. They are “parasite” phrases – yes!

    But what I would say is that if you can use them in your language, it also helps you to relate better to native speakers.

    … and I’m sure, Miss Amiel, if you look at your own language, you will find yourself using the word ‘like’!


    • Oh yes of course!
      But I only meant “parasite” for our students to understand as they often find it difficult to separate these phrases from what I’d call the “relevant information”. Often my students tell me that they just hear a sequence of sounds without being able to identify each word.

      I’d say that in French “like”

  6. Oups!
    I was just saying… I’d say that in French “like” can mean “comme” but in the example of Valleyr Girl, it’d be more like “il me fait”, “je lui fais” meaning “il me dit”, “je lui dis”.

    Another thing, I do agree with you on the fact that using these phrases help you relate better but I’d even say it is also very satisfactory and stimulating in your language process to see you’re able to use such phrases!

    Now, to finish on that, I do have a question for you (which could keep this discussion going) : can you use “like” as it is used in Valley Girl, in a question?
    Indeed, in French, I cannot imagine someone asking “et qu’est-ce qu’il t’a fait?” or “et qu’est-ce que tu lui as fait?” meaning “qu’est-ce qu’il t’a dit” or “qu’est-ce que tu lui as dit?”.


  7. It’s not the same meaning, I don’t think. I mean, I’m not sure we can translate.

    You could say: “Did he like…punch you in the face ?”

    In English, “faire” in this sense, could also be translated by “go”:

    And she went “hey” and he went “hey”. In a question “Did he go… like … what are you talking about ?”


    • hum… you’re right actually… I didn’t see things this way at first… interesting….


  8. but like also works in the same way.


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