I was talking with my friend and neither of us could think of the word for when someone says something similar to "And, like, we were totally, like, going to do this one thing."

To add to it, as requested, there are people that say things like "So, alright, this is what we're gonna' do, alright. First we need to (insert something here), alright."

  • 1
    The way 'like' is used here seems to have nothing in common with the 'alright' that you also mentioned in the title of your posting. Please either amend your question to explain the connection, or else drop the reference to 'alright'.
    – Erik Kowal
    Dec 15, 2014 at 6:20
  • Search previous posts on this site.
    – Kris
    Dec 15, 2014 at 7:42
  • Answered partially at 'Is it bad behavior to add filler words such as “so”, “um” in business speak'?' Dec 15, 2014 at 9:38
  • See: The Conscientiousness of Kidspeak, New Yorker 20 July 2014. "those “like”s are being used to register that what’s being narrated may not be utterly faithful to each detail—that it may not be, as a fourteen-year-old might say, “literally” true—but that it is essentially true, and, what’s more, that an innate sense of conscientiousness and empathy with the listener forbids the speaker from pretending to a more closely tuned accuracy than she in fact possesses."
    – A E
    Dec 15, 2014 at 11:32

2 Answers 2


They are known as filler words, and are often grouped into the same category as similarly used sounds such as "um" and "uh".

From _Wikipedia: Filler (linguistics)

In linguistics, a filler is a sound or word that is spoken in conversation by one participant to signal to others that he/she has paused to think but has not yet finished speaking. [...] Different languages have different characteristic filler sounds; in English, the most common filler sounds are uh, er, and um. Among youths, the fillers "like", "y'know", "I mean", "so", "actually", "basically", and "right" are among the more prevalent.

  • They may also be discourse markers, but I'm unsure of the difference between the two categories.
    – IQAndreas
    Dec 15, 2014 at 7:28
  • The overall term applied to such meta-statements / meta-expressions (not adding semantically to the contents of the matrix sentence) is 'pragmatic marker'. 'Discourse marker' may be regarded as a synonym, but different authors use the terms differently; 'pragmatic marker' seems better to describe some of the classes. Here, 'alright' seems to be being used in an identical fashion to 'like', in its filler (buy time to think without leaving an awkward pause in conversation) role. Usually, 'Right!/Alright' are [re/]focusing markers, like 'OK! / Now listen! / Let's begin! / Moving on ...' Dec 15, 2014 at 9:54
  • @EdwinAshworth Add that as an answer on Linguistics SE.
    – IQAndreas
    Dec 15, 2014 at 22:00

I suppose you could call like in this context quasi-adverbial.

It's an adverb, grammatically, in function: it appears to mean something like in this way. But I've said quasi-adverbial because it in fact adds no information at all (other than, perhaps, some meta-information about the speaker...).

  • Regarding "meta-information about the speaker": From Like, section As a discourse particle, filler, hedge, or speech disfluency: "In pop culture, such colloquial applications of like (especially in verbal excess) are commonly and often comedically associated with Valley girls" Dec 15, 2014 at 9:36
  • If anything, then, like is quasi-sentence-adverbial. I'm convinced it's best to relabel all such meta-devices 'pragmatic markers'. And though 'like' certainly can carry the meaning 'in the same way as' etc, it is often just a variant of 'er' / 'yɘ know' – a conversational filler. A device to afford the speaker thinking time without that awkward pause in speech. And this is probably the usage OP is asking about. Dec 15, 2014 at 9:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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