Grammar On The Move, From Modern English Teacher

learnenglish-central-grammar-330x2201.jpgSee if you can spot the more “modern” uses of like, how and so:
1. I’m so not ready to teach that class on adverbs.
2. He was so unprepared for his presentation.
3. How I love shoe shopping!
4. How clever is that?!
5. And I was like, “Yeah, that’s pretty clever.”

In Grammar On The Move, in the July 2006 issue of Modern English Teacher, Michael McCarthy and Ronald Carter write about how three little but common words have come to be used differently over time, even if only slightly so (1,4 and 5 are of course the newer uses here).

They point out that grammar has always gone through changes, noting that when the telegraph came out, people adjusted with “telegraphese” to reduce the charge based on number of words (does this remind anyone of text messages English?) Of course because of globalization and technology, the speed of changes may be increasing.

What’s interesting as a language teacher is that these are quite common if you think about them…but have you ever taught your students what it means: I was like? If they say it, it sounds like a mistake. But if they spend time in an English- speaking environment, especially with young people, they will hear it, and I bet that in informal conversation, “like” is more common than “said.”

I also think it’s a further testament to the fact that English is what English does. There’s no official committee to decide what it standard and what is not – when people use something it becomes part of speech. This may be in stark contrast to students’ languages which definitely have an official dialect or “correct answer”. How strange is that?!