The “Like” Jar – Avoid Using the Word Like

The jar we use to "pay" for improper use of the word "like"

Years ago I developed a bad habit.  I found myself using the word “like” a lot.  As far as bad habits go, it is not the worst (I could be a chain-smoking-heroin-addicted-internet-gambler which would be infinitely more interesting in terms of bad habits).  When I heard myself speak, I knew it wasn’t good form or good style.

Like is a simile and should be used when comparing words or declaring – I like dark chocolate.  Somehow, however, over the last 30 years it has insidiously worked its way into all forms of conversation.  It is not just kids making this mistake.  If we want to sound, and be seen as, credible, definitive, and confident, we all need to use the word “like” correctly.

Who is to blame for this “like” mess?  Shaggy gets some of the blame.  Watch some of the early “Scooby-Doo” cartoons and you’ll see Shaggy pick up the phone and say “like, hello” instead of simply hello (aka Scooby-Doo-talk).  The “Valley Girls” are co-conspirators for their contributions of “he was like…I was like…we were all”.

Enter the “like” jar.  Use the word “like” improperly at our house and you pay.  Adults and kids.  Quite literally, it costs money.  We haven’t had to use it in awhile.  We’ve worked hard to break this habit and not let our kids develop it.  Want to kick the “like” habit?  You and your family can do it.

Start by keeping track of how many times in a day you say “like” improperly.  Hash marks on a scrap of paper will do.  How about your kids?  Your spouse?  Think if each of you had to pay every time you said it.  Get a glass jar out of your recycling bin (nerd alert!  label maker) and give it a try.

3 easy steps to break the “like” habit

  1. Slow down and think before you speak (we can all stand to do this more often)
  2. Pay for your “like” transgressions.  Everyone must pay – no IOUs
  3. Elevate together – parents and kids learning and working while having fun

Check out these resources, which I got from our local library:

  • Listen to “Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide for Language and Spite” by June Casagrande on your next road trip.  She is clever, fun and you’ll laugh while you learn.
  • Read with your kids “Woe Is I Jr.” by  Patricia T. O’Conner.  It is written for kids and is funny.  Parents can benefit from the material as well (also author of the contrary link below).
  • “Grammar Smart Junior – Good Grammar Made Easy” by Liz Buffa.  Quiz answers are in the back of the book.

Check out these links:
The Other L-Word, Vanity Fair
If you completely disagree with me, you’ll want to check out this link below:
Language: Learning to Like Like

How many times a day do you say the word “like” improperly? What are your grammar pet-peeves? Have texting and tweeting improved grammar by shortening it or made it worse?

9 thoughts on “The “Like” Jar – Avoid Using the Word Like

  1. I think your idea of ridding society of this bad habit is excellent. Hope everyone latches on to your clever idea. I, too, have a “pet peeve”. Here it is: You can prepare pasta better than me. People have the bad habit of saying this! One should say: You can prepare pasta better than I.

    Here is another “pet peeve”. Me and my brother are going to the grocery store. It should be: My brother and I are going to the grocery store. One needs to put herself last!


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