I am new here, so my first question would be to ask about an annoying habit that I, as well as many other people out there, seem to have...

During the telling of a story I will often say this one phrase: "I was like" (and I was like, "Don't be dumb, it's not weird to say it at all!").

I would really like to throw something into my brain that would replace this. I hate using this term, it disgusts me...

  • What is the meaning of the phrase "I was like" in the context of telling a story? – Honza Zidek Jul 28 '14 at 7:32
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    @HonzaZidek - It's a (relatively recent) idiomatic expression which is used as an informal alternative to "I said" in the course of a conversation when relating a story or telling someone an anecdote. It is generally regarded as being slangy and something that is said mostly by young people (which for many older people therefore automatically means it ought to be condemned :) – Erik Kowal Jul 28 '14 at 8:20
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    There's no reason for it to disgust you, it's perfectly good "California English," and everyone, like, says it now. Simply say I SAID instead. It's that simple. – Fattie Jul 28 '14 at 11:09
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    "I got sick of saying like, so I was all like, 'I said...'" – Fattie Jul 28 '14 at 11:09
  • There is an equivalent, equally irritating (for some) expression in German: "Ich so" ("I was like") instead of "Ich sagte" ("I said"), see item 9 at duden.de/rechtschreibung/so_derartig_solch_genauso_etwa – painfulenglish Mar 3 '19 at 11:56

The way you have been using "I was like" means, in effect, "I said". So you just need to find some synonyms to replace this expression.

The most obvious synonym is the one I've just mentioned ("I said"), but there are plenty of other ways to put across the same idea that you can vary according to the circumstances you are describing. For instance:

I told them

I answered

I asked

I stated

I suggested

If you want more ideas, I'd recommend you to look for synonyms in a thesaurus. Besides the ones that exist in printed form, which you will probably be able to find in a public library or school library, you can consult one of the numerous online thesauruses like http://thesaurus.com/.

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    It can also mean "I thought...", eg "I was like WTF? but i didn't say anything." – Max Williams Jun 7 '16 at 8:52
  • @MaxWilliams - Good point. – Erik Kowal Jun 14 '16 at 20:10

The phrase is very versatile. I'll provide the common alternatives. In general, you can either describe the action or act it out.

‘was like’ when it precedes an action.

  1. I was like, ‘HAHAHAHAHAHA.’

I laughed maniacally.

I went HAHAHAHAHAHA. (Note it is colloquial if you do not follow ‘went’ with an onomatopoeia.)

I laughed, ‘HAHAHAHAHA.’

  1. He was like. (starts waving arms around maniacally)

He waved his arms around maniacally.

He did this. (action follows)

‘was like’ when it precedes a thought.

  1. I was like WTF.

I thought, WTF.

I was baffled.

‘was like’ when it precedes speech.

Erik Kowal has answered this. I'll have to add two things. Use an adverb if you want to be more precise. Shout is another useful one.

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