Words to Never Say, Part Two

This week we’re aiming our guns at the word like. (You knew this was coming.) If you care about precision in language, or just sounding more professional, read on.

If you use like as in enjoying something, or having affection toward someone, or using a direct comparison (“like a bat out of hell”), then keep it up. That’s the proper usage of the word.

But this last decade or so has seen the word explode as a kind of all-purpose verb/adjective:

“He was, like, (facial expression), and I like, (arms and hands indicating removal from the scene).” In Olde English, this might have meant, “He was upset and I quickly walked in the opposite direction.”


“That item is, like, over there in that aisle.” So is it actually over there in that aisle, or does it only seem as if it might be over there?

I know of more than one talented young person whose every 10th word is like. They need to stop, perform a like-ectomy on their vocabulary, and carry on making more sense. Research indicates that this will help in job interviews. Seriously.

Try using “it was as if…” if that will help, and if it applies. But you may find, as with kinda and sorta, that taking the expression out of your mouth completely will simply have the effect of strengthening your speech. Be brave. You can do it!


In light of / in lieu of

These two seem to get used incorrectly a lot, and it can be easy to do when you’re not really thinking about it.

First of all, these two phrases are not synonymous; they mean quite different things.

“In light of” means “taking into consideration” or “taking into account”. For example: “In light of the recent economic downturn, we won’t be investing in such-and-such a business.” Or, “In light of Mom’s questionable cooking skills, I opt to take her out to dinner.” Literally, it means “in the light of,” which is a great visual to help us remember its meaning.

“In lieu of” means “in place of.” Lieu is the French word for place. So the phrase means “in place of” or “instead of.” Examples: “In lieu of hot dogs for this year’s party, let’s go with hamburgers.” Or “I think we should hire a professional to do the work in lieu of having your sister paint the kitchen.”


In light of how instructive and fun this grammar site it, I will tell my friends about it.


In lieu of keeping this site a secret, I will tell all my friends to sign up for this site!

Have a good week!

Words to Never Say, Part One

We’re going to series–sprinkled among future entries–on words that should never come out of our mouths, or only in specific and precise contexts. Why? Re-read the subtitle to this blog

Sometimes these words and expressions shouldn’t be spoken simply because they are inaccurate. Other times, we should refrain from using these words because they are a reflection of the growing disintegration of our society and culture. (Would that I were joking!). We don’t want to help that trend along.

Our first candidates for elimination from our vocabulary are kinda and sorta. Now I know that I’ve misspelled them. But I hope that by doing so, we’ll be reminded that this spelling simply reflects the sloppiness of speech that has brought these two “words” into such common use.

Once upon a time, “kind of “ and “sort of” were used sparingly and accurately, when they were employed to grant a hint of moderation or approximation into a phrase. An example would be: “That strange action was kind of sweet.” Or “She is kind of new to this company.”

The hesitation associated with this works well when describing some situations. But it dilutes our speech when we use it as it is more commonly being used these days.

I often listen to a podcast where the main speaker says “kinda” and “sorta” a great deal. Examples: “How did you kinda of begin your research on this time in history?” “Kinda begin”? Really!? “Tell me when you sorta got together with this director.” My head hurts. The person began and met—direct and simple (and accurate). It’s nearly as absurd as saying that someone “kinda came in first.”

It’s kinda, sorta as if we were afraid of being straightforward, clean, direct, and precise—which I believe is the reason behind this usage. Listen for it. You’ll find it everywhere. It’s common, but so are colds.

Just try to excise these two expressions from your speech for a week. You’ll realize 1) you didn’t really need them after all, and 2) your speech will grow stronger and more muscular by the day.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this experiment.