So what’s the deal with the quotative like? Is it just a lazier, slangier way of saying says? Linguists are like, No! The general consensus is that the quotative like encourages a speaker to embody the participants in a conversation. Thus, the speaker vocalizes the contents of participants’ utterances, but also her attitudes toward those utterances. She can dramatize multiple viewpoints, one after another, making it perfectly clear all the while which views she sympathizes with and which she does not. Hear yourself say these sentences aloud: I walked up to Randy and he was like, Why are you late? I was like, Because you gave me the wrong time! You have, in addition to relaying the he-says she-says bones of a conversation, probably betrayed some moral indignation. Randy was unreasonable, and you were in the right. It’s possible to do all this with says, of course, but not nearly as naturally.

Jessica Love, “And I’m Like, Read This!”