The "Like" Syndrome This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   The "Like Syndrome," a deadly disease that destroys the English language, is running rampant among America's teenagers. This disease, whose only symptom is the frequent misuse of the word "like" in the victim's speech, is passed from person to person by conversation. Teenagers seem to be particularly susceptible, but after long periods of exposure, adults can also catch the bug. If the disease is not cured, the sufferer might lose prospective jobs, as correct English is an invaluable tool in business. The only cure is identification and awareness of the problem and conscious effort to stop.

Ever since my parents informed me of my habit of constantly saying "like," the incorrect and superfluous use of "like" has irritated me to the point of being a pet peeve. "Like" is used in many incorrect ways: to punctuate a pause (I think, like, that...); to introduce a quote ("I was like, AReally?'"), in place of "around" or "approximately" (I have, like, eight hours of homework!!); to start a phrase (Like, what's going on?); or as incomprehensible (Like, I saw, like, you, like, and that, like, really cute guy you, like, like, at the, like, mall).

It is interesting to note that "like" is mainly used incorrectly in speech, and therefore is a speech habit. It represents a hesitancy to be definitive, perhaps linked to fear of being ridiculed for expressing true opinions. Instead of simply saying, "I hate the jerk you're going out with,"someone might say, "I, like, don't really like that guy, like, the one you're, like, going out with." Worse, for those who unconsciously have picked it up, it is a hard-to-break habit. Even though I constantly try to be aware of my speech, I am always catching myself in mid-sentence.

There are several ways this problem can be corrected. First, people must be informed that the problem exists. Teachers, parents, or friends could signal whenever "like" is used in conversation. For hard core "likers," listeners could shout "Valley Girl, Valley Girl," (my ninth grade English teacher's suggestion), scream, faint, or throw things. Above all, speaking slowly and concentrating on speech is a must for anyone who wants to correct the problem. "Like" used improperly is incorrect English, and should not be tolerated in speech. n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 16 at 9:34 pm
i love this so much!
liker said...
Oct. 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm
Wow, like, powerful stuff, like, wow. LIKE
redcg416 said...
Feb. 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm
I do this so often. It irratates my family and I don't even notice it. We have a code word when I need to really start paying attention to what I am saying, pickle. It works and slowly my disease is receding. Down with the Like Syndrome.
peanuts16 replied...
Dec. 31, 2015 at 7:07 pm
Down WITH THE LIKE SYNDROME! (we should protest
Chrissy_L said...
Jul. 3, 2009 at 10:24 pm
I entirely agree. So many of my friends and peers "suffer from this disease." I try to make a point of speaking articulately and scrutinizing over my grammer. (I'm a veracious supporter of the proper use of "who" and "whom".) Yet so many others (especially here in middle school) do not care for proper speech, disregarding the lessons we recieve in English class.
It is an epidemic.
xwordlyxwondersx said...
Apr. 11, 2009 at 1:01 am
You are completely right! Though I'm certainly a victim of this "syndrome", I constantly struggle to correct my own speech. And even though it seems innocent enough when just blurting out a sentence, seeing it written on a page makes me realize just how brain-cell-killing the incorrect use of that word truly is. Thanks for the article, and I'll just try to remind myself that, if I don't want my speech IQ to drop about twenty points in three seconds, I'll work on refining my horrible ... (more »)
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback