Investigating the Function of DM “Like” in Authentic Discourse and the Importance of Incorporating It in ESL Curriculum

  • Heba Ibrahim ElbahwashyEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Science, Technology & Innovation book series (ASTI)


In daily communication, the lexical items “like”, “well”, and “you know” can serve as discourse markers (DMs). Research on DMs has revealed a various functions as different types of particles, such as the conjunctional use of “like” and the semantically unidentified phrase “you know”. However, there are no formal indications in the ESL grammar books that address the function of the DM “like” as a conjunction. In their book How English works: A grammatical practice book with answers, Swan and Walter define “like” as a preposition that comes before nouns or pronoun (Swan 1997). Some given examples are as follows: He runs like the wind. She looks like me. However, they refer to the conjunctional function of “like” as informal and cannot occur in writing. This paper investigates the function of the discourse marker “like” in actual discourse and the possible criteria that determine the status of “like” in the present day. Additionally, the paper examines the prescribed grammatical function of “like” in ELS grammar books. Finally, the paper suggests specific pedagogical recommendations that could be considered in a sustained ESL field of learning and teaching.


Discourse markers Lexicon ESL Language learning Sustainable education 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education, American University in the EmiratesDubaiUnited Arab Emirates

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