Mannerisms to Avoid

  1. “Like”

    Valley girl, and, like, proudDo you know a person who, like, inserts a word, like every time she, like, tries to say something? “Like” should be extirpated from your speech — whether formal or informal. It is nonsense, and it makes the speaker seem to be very, very stupid and immature. If you are not stupid, why would you ever want to appear to be, especially in such a stupid way? When used as in the example above, “like” takes the place of “er” or “um,” neither of which is very elegant. Both, however, are preferable to “like.”

    The “like” mannerism also infests the verbs “to be” and “to say,” as in “He asked me out, and I was like ‘I doan wanna go out.’ And then he was like all pathetic.” If you have been to school you should know better than to speak this way.

  2. “Kinda”

    Some people kinda decorate their speech with needless “kinda’s” as a way of softening what they really are trying to say. They don’t want to be pinned down, so instead of saying “It looks like rain,” they say “It kinda looks like rain.” “Kinda” is meaningless. If it’s worth saying, it’s not “kinda worth saying,” so just go to the point and take a risk. If you want to fudge, use “might,” the perfectly good word in English that expresses uncertainty.

  3. “Real quick”

    Speaking of fudging, you will hear from time-to-time the “real quick” fudge: “Can I ask you a question real quick?” Usually, “real quick” does not mean “really quickly” (the grammatically correct way of saying it), but rather, it is an afterthought to try (lamely) to persuade the person being asked that whatever-it-is will not take up very much time. Of course, both parties know that it is not a promise to be quick, neither is it an indirect apology for taking up another person’s time. It is a fudge. Don’t say it; but if you do, at least be aware that it is a mannerism, and probably an insincere remark.

  4. “See what I’m sayin’?”

    This mannerism is in the same category as “Know what I mean?” and “You know.” The truth is, it is just filler talk, uttered more by habit than by thinking, and designed to make some sort of noise while you figure out what (if anything) you are going to say next. A few speakers do ask, “Do you follow me?” or “Do you understand?” and they are being thoughtful and sincere; but mainly, the “see what I’m saying” crowd is just headed off in a slangy direction with little or no content.

Published by


Born in Pittsburgh, educated at Yale. Practiced law in Washington DC. Moved to Colorado. Lived in Mexico. Translator and internet content writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *