We use this word “like” in everyday speech; instead of using “similar,” we have become accustomed to it as a fully functional formal word. However, “like” is not an appropriate term to use in formal writing. You can say anything in speech. People are generally not concerned with speaking everyday language formally according to the rules of grammar. The only thing they want to know is if you know how to hold a conversation.
In other circles, people concern themselves with how well you speak. Particularly, they express concern when it comes to speaking articulately. We generally don’t like it when someone mumbles and has slurred speech. We say to this person, “I can’t hear you.” In other words, you are not representing “you” to the best of your ability. This is typically what we gather from just one conversation with a person–that the person lacks confidence.
One time I made the mistake of using “like” in my paper. It wasn’t on purpose. I just did it without thinking. —Regina Y. Favors
With this in mind, when you use “like” in formal writing, it has the same effect of slurred, inarticulate speech. You are not sure how you want to say something. You are not certain how you want to present your sentence. You are not sure how to construct a formal, grammatical sentence properly; and you are not sure of who you are. A person who makes eye contact during a conversation is similar to a person who knows the right word, and when to use this word, at the right time. Both persons are confident and less intimidated by the situation and the task before them.
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.