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Talk like an American: The essentials

Since living abroad, I’ve learned that there are a few words and phrases that only American English can own. And we Americans are proud of them – similar to how we’re proud of our affection for fried foods and obsession with all things French (yes, this is a true confession). But they are known to cause mass confusion at dinner parties and leave colleagues with a lot of questions. Trust me on that one.

Master talking like an American with these tips (and don’t forget to check out this older set!)

You say toilet, we say restroom

I’m not sure why because we don’t do very much resting in there – but now you know what to ask for when nature calls (bonus: that’s an idiom for needing to use the toilet.. err restroom).

Example: 32 ounces of Fanta is too much for my bladder. I really need to use the restroom!

Annoyed, upset, or disappointed? Say you’re bummed

This comes from the word bummer, which means a disappointing situation or experience. Only use it in light situations though, anything bigger than the feelings that come with the corner shop being out of your favorite doughnut calls for more than being bummed.

Example: I’m super bummed. I asked for curly fries but got waffle fries instead.

Ready? You’re actually set

No, I don’t mean ready, set, go! I mean, you can basically replace the word ready with set in any sentence. We’re big fans of straightforward language (despite what our grammar rules may say), so maybe the two extra letters were just too much effort in this case.

Example: Rain jacket? Check. Pride and Prejudice paperback? Check. Dry humor? Check. You’re set for your first trip to England!

Pissed means angry, not drunk

I know that British English has other ideas, but pissed means angry in America. Add pissed off and that’s next level angry. You don’t hear the latter very often, so just run away if you do.

Example: The other day, I got stuck in traffic and cut off seven times on my way to the mall. I was so pissed by the time I got there!

I could care less means I couldn’t care less

This one baffles me, but even I am guilty of saying it. I could care less about saying I could care less instead of I couldn’t care less. Now, say that three times fast.

Example: I’m up for Mexican, Chinese, or Vietnamese food. Really, I could care less about what restaurant we go to (also known as me before every date I go on with my husband).

Bonus: say it loud (and proud)

I leave you with the greatest advice of all: say everything very loudly. Using outside voices all the time is kind of our specialty. Oh, and wearing athletic clothes wherever you go (I’m American, so I can say that).

More tips for talking like an American right here.

Learn to speak like an American in the USLearn More

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