Like and Um

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Good morning!

The other day, I stumbled upon a short piece in Real Simple about saying like and um in conversation”¦ like, um, a lot.


Apparently, these words are verbal fillers, which we use when we feel nervous or need a second to get our thoughts together– and we’ve probably been using them for about 100,000 years now! Even the first recordings by Thomas Edison include them: “We’ll get into Paris and make for the, uh, Grand Hotel”¦ Uh, good-bye.” Interesting, right?

The piece goes on to say it’s fine to use um and uh, which are the equivalent of taking a pause for effect, but the word like, especially in formal situations, can weaken the impression that you make. In a Penn State study, participants perceived job applicants as less desirable if they overused like, as opposed to using uh instead. Good to know!

When it comes to using like and um in conversation, I’m pretty bad. I don’t say um or uh a ton, but I’m guilty of using like way too much, which I don’t like at all. I’m trying to break myself of the habit, so I’ve become much more conscious of saying like, but it still slips into conversation quite a bit. I guess I just need to keep working at it!


Yummy breakfast this morning: oats + egg whites with blackberries, ground flax, and peanut butter””and, of course, iced coffee with soy milk.

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I ran out of egg whites this morning, so I couldn’t make my new favorite breakfast, so I tossed in some rolled oats for some extra substance.

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Question of the Day

How often do you use like and um in conversation? Do you notice when other people use them? If you use these words in conversation, have you ever tried breaking yourself of the habit?



  1. I definitely use “like” and “um” – “like” more than “um” and it bothers the heck out of me! I’m trying to be more conscious of it but it’s definitely hard.

    LOOOOVE Upper Crust – I used to go to the one in Coolidge Corner ALL the time!

  2. I just read that article the other day!

    I’m a teacher so I always catch myself filling “breaks” in my yapping with “like” & “um.” Sometimes I realize I’m saying it A LOT & then wonder how many of my lovely 16-year-olds are keeping tallys on their notes! 🙂

  3. Ever since listening to a few profs at my university say um a LOT, I’m very conscious of the number of times I say it. It’s funny – once someone points it out, it’s like you can’t help but notice every time the word is said! I don’t think I over-use ‘like’ any more but I definitely did when I was in my teens!

  4. Very funny – I joined Toastmaster at work. It’s a worldwide public speaking club and one of the things they focus on is the reduction of crutch words (“um” and “ah”) and transitional words (think “so” and “like”).

    Once you’re tuned into this, you hear it everywhere! I’m amazed sometimes when they interview people on TV or the radio and all you here is “um I ah wrote this book and um it was an awesome experience and um”

    If anyone has interest in becoming a better speaker – you should check out Toastmasters online for a club near your area. Lots of fun!

  5. I don’t use “like” very often, but I sometimes catch myself saying “um” during client conference calls when I need to pause to think about something. It drives me nuts!

  6. I say like probably a lot more than I realize. It bothers me to hear other people say it randomly (valley high school girl?). Then i immediately become more self conscious about my word choices. That only lasts a few days, then I slip back into old habits. It’s just bad habits.

  7. I say “like” in every single sentence almost. It’s a really common here in Wicklow, Ireland and the particular town I’m from. I don’t notice the majority of the time, but when I do become conscious of it I drive myself mad!

  8. As an English teacher, I try to avoid like and um as much as possible—mainly because I spend so much time trying to break my kids’ habit!

  9. When I notice that I’m getting bad about a habit like that, I wear a rubber band on my wrist and snap it every time I notice myself doing it. It works pretty well and keeps me conscious of how often I’m doing it!

  10. I only notice when people use them a LOT. I had a friend in middle school who said “like” soooooo much. My mom finally counted her “likes” on the way home from a soccer game one day. She was shocked at how often she said it.

  11. I try to not use either a lot. I know in job interviews I was always very careful not to say either. If someone says it a lot now I will notice, or in public speaking I always notice too.

  12. I say “um” and “uh” WAY too much. Also guilty of “kind of,” “sort of,” and starting every statement with a quick, ” i don’t know….” My dad always tells me “YES, you DO know!”

    I agree that they all make us sound less intelligent, and I’m working on eradicating them from my daily speech.

  13. I got really good about NOT using like, um, etc. when talking while I was a public relations major for my undergrad degree – kiss of death when giving a presentation! Since then, they’ve slowly found their way back into my vocabulary, especially “like”. I’m trying to be more cognisant of that.

  14. I had a 5th grade teacher who would make us repeat ourselves if we used those fillers. It took a boy almost 10 minutes to finish a few sentence. It really helped me tone down the filler though 🙂

    Food looks yum!!

  15. i used to be terrible at saying like all the time. so much so that i remember one of my jr high teachers would call it the “ashley disease” if someone started saying like a lot while they were talking. since i’ve gotten older, i have definitely been making more of an effort to stay away from saying it so much. i still catch myself from time to time – it’s hard!

  16. I grew up in the 1980s in southern California – the height of the Valley Girl craze – and I am horrible about over using the word “like”. When I’m either too excited or really shocked by something, I still say, “OHMYGAWD” really fast and really loudly, too. It’s embarrassing and I want to stop but at my age I’m not sure how realistic that is.

  17. I use ‘umm’ and ‘so’ the most, but I get into random habits of using ‘like’. It doesn’t bother me if someone else uses it so long as it doesn’t detract from the conversation. I have a good friend, bless her heart, who uses it almost after every.single.word. I shit you not. I have to put mental blocks up so that I don’t spaz.

  18. Final presentations – one presenter was totally hooked on ‘um’ – I didn’t notice it until the girl next to me pointed it out. Then, it was so hard not to be fixated on it – it distracted from her content so much – she would have been better off just being nervous.

  19. I took a public speaking course years ago in college and my professor would tally your “um’s” and “likes.”. I really don’t have that habit. Others had a zillion “filler” words they used. I guess I just never formed that habit. 🙂

  20. I think I say “uh” a lot, but I don’t know. My senior year of high school, we each had to present a lesson for a grade in my AP Calculus class, and my teacher took a point off of the grade for each time we said “like”! What a great tool to break me of that habit as a high school kid, I don’t think I’ve ever been a big “like” girl! Thanks Mrs. D 😉

  21. I say “uh” a LOT. i recently did a couple vlogs and it was terrible how much I said it! def working in it for next time. SO Interesting about eddison!

  22. This totally hits home with me. I am a teacher and say like way, way, way too much. So much so that I was told I needed to work on it because it made the students feel like they were on my level. I’ve had this habit for years & it’s so hard to break & just “work on” even though I’ve been trying!

  23. If it makes you feel better, I didn’t notice you saying tons of “likes” when I interviewed ya last year. I notice it with other people, so I’m not just oblivious. Still, it’s worth it to try to get rid of it in your talking if it bugs you! I know I say it more than I should sometimes…usually when I’m nervous!

  24. I always go through phases of saying certain words or phrases. Right now, I picked up from the Dominicans saying “super” before everything. Super delicious, etc.

    And I also super lamely say,”Oh yeah.” But only at home with Kevin & Boyd… I hope, anyways! It might slip out. Haha.

  25. Agh! I use them all of the time! I try to be very consious of the words that I use when I am talking, but it doesn’t always work out. I am a very extroverted person, but get me in front of a crowd by myself, I turn into an idiot. 🙂
    They say it takes about three weeks to develope a habit, and probably twice as long to break one.
    My saying now is, “I know, right.”

    Have a great day!

  26. The like and um habit…when I was in grad school we had to listen to each other give oral presentations and count how many times fellow classmates did it. It was ridiculous how much people say it. After a few months, our profs would dock our grades on oral presentations if the likes and ums were not at a very, very minimum as a way to force people to stop saying it b/c they felt it made you look unprofessional and like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which I can’t disagree!

  27. Professionally I rarely use them and never do when giving presentations. I’ve learned how to take silent pauses, but in real life, I use ‘like’ a lot. Ooops.

    Love the new profile pic on the left: HOT!

  28. When I was in 5th grade, our teacher challenged us to go an entire day without saying “like” or “um.” It was REALLY difficult, lol! But it stuck with me. All these years later (and i’s been a LONG time!) I’m still very aware of it.

  29. I’m horrible at saying “like.” Whenever I try to stop myself from saying it, I say it more. I worked with someone who always added “and what not” to the end of every sentence.

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