I would like to know if there is any difference between "year ago" and "like a year ago". As far as I know "like a year ago" means "Nearly a year".

Also is it right to use "like a year ago" when duration is between 9 - 10 months.


It's not quite the same as nearly a year ago. Nearly a year ago means that it was close to but less than one year. For example, nearly a year ago could mean ten or eleven months.

Like a year ago, on the other hand, means that it was approximately one year ago. It could be a bit more or less than a year. And although I can't give you an exact range, I think the answer to your second question is yes: between nine to ten months is like a year, but so is thirteen or fourteen months.

A year ago means one year ago. It's usually used in an approximate sense similar to like a year ago, but since it doesn't use the word like, it doesn't have to be approximate; it can be used in certain contexts to mean exactly one year ago. However, if you want to say that exactly one year has passed, you usually say something like exactly a year ago or a year ago today.

  • 3
    I'd add that "like a year ago" is informal. If I was writing a scholarly paper, I wouldn't say, "The quantum dephaser was invented like a year ago, sorta." I'd say "about a year ago" or "approximately a year ago".
    – Jay
    Nov 4 '13 at 15:17
  • You might say "a little less than a year ago" for 9-11 months, and you could also say "About a year ago" to indicate somewhere in the range of perhaps 10 to 14 months, but it implies that either you don't know exactly when it happened or that you're too lazy to do the date math. :-) And then there's "sometime last year" which could be anywhere from 1 to 23 months ago, depending on the current date.
    – Hellion
    Nov 4 '13 at 15:18

The word "like" that appears here is a feature of a North American dialect. It is used as a filler word or hedge. Used this way, "like" does not have its usual meanings of "similar to", or "to favor (something)".

So, like, I lost my temper around this, like, unbelievably rude customer and the boss, like, totally fired me in front of everyone there.

Probably the most accurate interpretation of "like a year ago" is that the speaker is not exactly sure about the time. It was approximately a year ago as far as the speaker remember, and the word "like" serves as a softening apology for not being certain. In other words, the meaning similar to the longer version:

Okay, there's like this voice in my head telling me it mighta been a year ago, or so, but, like, that could be totally wrong, y'know?"

Excessive use of "like" is a symptom of habitually being unsure of anything, and of speaking before thinking, and thus consequently requiring pauses for thought to catch up with speech.

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