02 Jul

Phrases I Overuse

Posted by Jenna, Under Parenting

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He’s turning into a little mini-me in a lot of ways. For better or for worse.

Parenting forces you to come to terms with all sorts of flaws and quirks about yourself that you previously ignored. T1′s language explosion of the last 6 months has brought to light several words that I repeat frequently (overuse?) in my daily speech.

1. Really

T1 has to go potty “really so bad”. He is really hungry. Really mad. I really mean it. It’s really important.

2. Pretty

Pretty great. Pretty cool. Pretty quiet. Pretty bad. Give me an adjective, and I will put pretty in front of it.

3. ‘cuz

This shortened form of because has almost become grating for me to hear ‘cuz he uses it so often. At first I was a little bit embarrassed, and then I started listening closer to the adults around me and on television and I realized that everyone is doing it! Is this a socially acceptable slang term, akin to what “like” will be in 15-20 years?

What words/phrases do you overuse? And can we take some time to talk about about America and the future of “like”? Because I use it constantly, and everyone younger than me uses it even more. Do other English speaking countries use it as frequently as we do? 

14 Comments


  1. My daughter is almost a year, and just beginning to babble/repeat sounds, but we are quickly realizing the things we say a lot. Her first two phrases were “uh oh” and “oh wow!” which I say a lot, and my best friend/her daycare provider says a lot too.

    I use “like” constantly too, even though I try not to. I was in Britain for a semester in college, and hung out with Australian college students recently, and their young people use “like” almost as often as kids here do.

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  2. When I was studying in England, I was appalled at how often I heard “like” used, even in seminars. I made a concerted effort not to say it so much because I didn’t want to sound overly American, but, the girl in England used it just as much, if not more!

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  3. Apparently I tell my toddler, “enough!” a lot when he’s being naughty because now he’s saying it to me when he doesn’t want to do something! He also says, “what?!” which my husband and I both say but that’s mostly just cute.

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  4. Aithnea Micheals says:

    Boo’s language has also started to explode now as well. For me it’s, “Yeah!” instead of “Yes” I’m finding. At first I wondered where she had learned it from and then I listened to myself and realized it was from ME! And “Dang It!” which is something I say when I’m frustrated. Both of which I’m really embarrassed by but feel that I can’t correct her on because they are something that I do as well.

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  5. Celeste says:

    We apparently say “that’s not the deal” and “sounds like a good plan” because we here that thrown back at us all the time. My husband isn’t a big curser, but he does say “what the!” All the time. Mild from an adult, cute and incredibly inappropriate from a toddler.

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  6. Super. I use it way too much!

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  7. We use “like”, like, A LOT. Haha. We’ve been consciously avoiding it and correcting each other when we use it erroneously.

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  8. You’re not the only one asking that question! See “Like and Language Ideology: Disentangling Fact from Fiction,” Alexandra D’Arcy, in American Speech, Winter 2007. Reading and talking about language change is, like, super-nerdy fun (and can we talk about “super” as a prefix while we’re at it?).

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    Jenna Reply:

    The article looks awesome, and I was able to find the full text using Google Scholar. I’m excited to read it.

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  9. I say “really,” “super,” “kind of,” and “fabulous.” ALL.THE.TIME. I had no idea until I started teaching. In a methods course I took, we had to watch ourselves on DVD after teaching a lesson, and my students also picked up on them. I’m pretty confident that if we try to force them away, we’ll naturally just pick up new ones to take their place. Spending time with kids really does make you recognize it in a way you never would have before!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Kind of is another one of mine. One of T1′s funniest phrases is “That’s kinda sense!” which he uses randomly and also in an attempt to say that something kind of makes sense.

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  10. Aussie here, and yes we use “like” as much as Americans do! My 10 month old has yet to start speaking – I’m at once excited to hear her first words and dreading hearing my own words come out of her mouth! My husband and I are particularly bad at swearing while driving. I’m sure there’ll be some surprises too.

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  11. Haha, cute! I love hearing myself being parroted back now, so funny. Favorite phrases include “What happened??” (always accompanied with the palms outstretched gesture) and “Are you okay?” (to express concern). I also use a lot of pretend vocabulary (as in, I made it up) with my family, and now my daughter is starting to use it too. Like rabbits say “nu” in my world, so that’s what she calls them.

    I don’t use like THAT much, but I think it’s because I don’t live in the US and so don’t hear others using it that often. Instead I’ve picked up some of the local English tics (like saying “Ai-yo” which expresses sort of anger or frustration, like “Ai-yo, you just spilled your milk everywhere!”).

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  12. Annette says:

    I used to take care of my nieces and nephew days. When my toddler niece responded to my saying, “I’m sorry,” to her with, “You don’t have to be sorry,” I realized she’d picked up the phrase and had been told by her parents that She didn’t have to be sorry. Ouch. Didn’t consciously want to teach her to be overly apologetic.

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