to be like


to go

1 Americans, as well as other English speakers, use the phrase to be like and to go instead of to say all the time when we quote someone's words — or even our own.

These forms can be used in any tense: 

⦿ I used to be like, 

⦿ I was like, 

⦿ I'm going to be like,

It can even be used as a command: 

If your boss is like I need you to work this weekend, you be like I have kids. Ask someone else!

In other words, if your boss says..., tell him...!

_______________⦿ to mow the lawn | [mou̯ ðǝlɑ:n] to cut the grass using a lawnmower⦿ I'm going to lose it | I'm going to lose my temper⦿ to be grounded | to be punished and not allowed to leave the house or your room
⁕ ⁕ ⁕Note that to be like is only used to report speech; You would never ask What was he like? instead of What did he say? but you can ask Was he like "I'm sorry"? for instance.

It's Saturday morning and young Alex's turn to mow the lawn. His mom, Olivia, is washing the dishes when Alex's dad comes into the kitchen... and he's not happy.


Ricky: I just asked Alex to mow the lawn for the third time this morning. If I have to ask him again, I'm going to lose it.

Olivia: Just tell him to do it. 

Ricky: I did! I was like "The sooner you cut the grass, the sooner you can go hang out with your friends."

Olivia: And? What did he say? 

Ricky: He was like "I don't want to hang out with my friends. I just want to stay in bed and relax." So I was like "Well then you can stay in your room all weekend, if you're so tired. You're grounded!"

Two restaurant servers talk about a regular customer. In Doug's response, I'd be like means I'd say... Here, you can also say I'd go...


Doug: [teasing] I see your boyfriend came in today...  

Karen: Old Mr. Cooper? Please!

Doug: He'll only eat here if you're here. On your days off, he goes to the Greek diner down the street. I've seen him. 

Karen: Well, he's loyal — I'll give him that.

Doug: Why, doesn't he tip? 

Karen: Yes... one quarter.

Doug: What??

Karen: Yep. He stuffs it in my apron and says "This is for you, sweetie!" as if it was a hundred-dollar bill.

Doug: That's ridiculous! I'd be like "Keep it, dude. You need it more than I do!"

_______________⦿ quarter | a 25-cent coin⦿ I'll give him that | «at least that's one good thing I can say in his favor». With this comment, Karen is basically saying that his loyalty is his only good quality, as far as she's concerned. Doug interpreted this to mean that loyal is pretty much all he is because he's a horrible tipper.

2 The forms be like and go aren't just used to quote direct speech, they're also used to refer to gestures, movements, facial expressions, etc.

In this comment, the writer uses both forms to talk about her favorite local barista who always knows exactly what she wants before she even orders it. Here it is again with better punctuation:

I adore my coffee guy. I always get a large coffee. At first, I'd walk in and he'd be like "Large coffee, right?" But now, he just does finger guns at me and goes "LARGE!!!"...and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't the best part of my day.

Nina and her coworker discuss a new manager. Here, Nina uses be like to cite an example of what she would do, not say, if this man touched her the same way. 


Vicky: What do you think of Mr. Arnold?

Nina: He's nice. Why? Don't you like him?

Vicky: He's gropy. Every morning when I'm getting coffee, he walks up behind me and puts his hand on my waist... and leaves it there. I'm going to have to say something. 

Nina: If he tries that with me, I'll be like pshhh! [air-slaps an imaginary man in the face]

____________⦿ gropy [gróu̯pi]  | from the verb to grope, which is generally used to describe a man who touches women inappropriately. You'll also hear handsy [hǽndzi] (not the same as handy!) with this meaning.

3 Sometimes you hear people say be all instead of be like especially when they find someone's words or actions arrogant, confrontational, defiant, brave, etc.

____________⦿ Could she be more obvious? | This rhetorical question is another way of saying She couldn't be more obvious if she tried!  In other words, she so shameless that she's not even trying to hide her feelings for Harman.⦿ skank | [skæŋk] | a cheap, sleazy, vulgar, tasteless, immoral, shameless girl or woman⦿ to lose it | Here: I'm going to go out of my mind with jealousy, anger, etc.
Before a meeting, Nina and Vicky talk about a coworker who's having an affair with one of the managers, Mr. Harrison, a married man.____________

Vicky: Ugh, look at Carmen. Of course she has to sit right next to Harrison. Could she be more obvious? If she was any closer, she'd be sitting on his lap!

Nina: What a skank! This morning, I asked her if she was going to the company Christmas party and she was all, "I can't go. If I see him walk in with that woman, I'm gonna lose it." I was like, "Are you serious? She's his wife!"

4 You may see memes or hear people say "[PEOPLE] be like..." followed by a quote or a picture of someone's reaction to something. This is a borrowing from *Black English and is used to make a general statement about how certain people react to certain situations. For instance, the meme below shows a woman praising God, and the caption suggests that this is how moms generally feel or react when it's time for their children to go back to school after being in the house all summer. 


*In Black English, the form be is used in a general, habitual sense: They be fighting all the time = they're always fighting -or- Her food be too salty = Her food tends to be too salty.