English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I thought that the quotative "be like" was limited to American English, but was surprised to hear a 60-something New Zealand woman using it repeatedly recently. What is the status in world English?

(I am referring to "be like" to introduce a quotation or internal monologue, as is discussed in e.g. this paper: http://www.jstor.org/stable/455910 )

share|improve this question
I think it's pretty global at this point. I keep hearing it among the Irish and British speakers everyday, if I get you correctly. It would be better if you had provided an example sentence as well. – Neeku Jul 24 '14 at 11:13
What are you talking about? The question is totally unclear. Give examples, examples, examples. – Joe Blow Jul 24 '14 at 11:51
I added a reference with examples for those who haven't heard of it. – hunter Jul 24 '14 at 12:48
(2) It's a common usage here in the north of England amongst under-30s say. (1) Previous threads pick up on the fact that, though 'He's like: "What's that under the table?" ' looks and behaves like a quote structure, there is an implication that the accuracy of the 'quote' part may not be 100%. So 'He's like' = 'He said something like' (as well as perhaps 'He said'). 'Like as a hedging/approximative quotative' is addressed in a paper by I Buchstaller. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 24 '14 at 13:38

I hear it plenty in Canadian English, as well as the occasional ( and similar ) "be all", as in this example:

'So I see my friend at the bus stop, and he's all, "did you see that seagull take a crap on that guy's head?!", and I'm like, "no way, where?"'

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.