Today we’re talking about 15 very American words and phrases, and how you can pronounce them correctly with a very American accent. We will also show you some great examples on how to use each one.
Have you ever wondered how to sound like a native English speaker from the USA? Yes? 😀 Then, you’re going to love this lesson!
Are you ready?! Let’s start learning!
Traditional definition: In a literal manner or sense; exactly.
Modern usage and definition: This is a super common word in modern English, and the way we use it now is not always 100% “correct.” We use it to emphasize an idea or make an exaggeration.
Example: “It’s literally a million degrees outside, it’s so hot.” 😰 — It’s definitely not a million degrees anywhere, but it’s so hot that it might feel like it! 😂
Example: “Literally anything would be better than working this weekend!” Using “literally” here is to emphasize the point!
Traditional definition: Something extremely impressive; something that inspires awe, great admiration, or fear.
Modern usage and definition: More commonly, this word is used to say that something is extremely good, excellent, cool, or fantastic.
Example: “The Beyoncé concert last night was beyond awesome!” 👑🐝
Example: “I know an awesome place to grab lunch that just opened.”
Traditional definition: When used as an adjective, noun, or preposition, it relates to having the same characteristics or qualities as something/someone. When used as a verb, it means something or someone you find enjoyable, or even attractive.
Modern usage and definition: This word is almost too popular in today’s vocabulary. 😆 When ‘like’ is used as an adverb, it becomes informal, and is used as a filler (a meaningless word inserted into speech to fill space). You’ll find plenty of teachers (and parents!) who will encourage their kids to not use ‘like’ in this sense.
This word is also commonly used in reported speech. For example, “And then, I was like ‘Oh my god, that is so awesome’.”
Example: “She always gets good grades, she’s like the best student in class”.
Example: “This week has been like the most stressful ever.”
Traditional definition: Completely; absolutely.
Modern usage and definition: Used to emphasize, or agree with, an idea or statement. It’s also common to shorten this words to ‘totes’ when expressing agreement, especially younger people.
Example: “This lesson is totally awesome!”
Example: “You should totally come to the party this weekend!”
5. WHAT’S UP?
Modern usage and definition: Since this is an informal question, it doesn’t have a formal definition. It’s used to greet someone, to ask someone what’s going on in a situation, to ask how they are doing, or to show acknowledgement or concern in reply, American words and phrases.
Example: “What’s up with people who haven’t ✨subscribed✨ to the Go Natural English email group yet?” 😄 (You should totally click that link ↗️↗️↗️ and subscribe, if you haven’t already! It’s FREE!)
6. I HEAR YOU
Modern usage and definition: Used to express confirmation, or that you understand someone emotionally; to show empathy or commiseration. It can also be shortened to “I hear ya.” Use this when you want to show someone that you understand what they’re saying, that you agree, or just that you’re listening to them.
Example: “I hear you! That biology test last week was really difficult.”
7. TELL ME ABOUT IT
Modern usage and definition: What’s funny about this one is that is actually means not to tell the person any more about what you’re discussing. This phrase is used to show agreement on a subject, when you are all too familiar with what the other person is saying or complaining about.
Speaker 1: “I would love to live in Los Angeles, but it’s so expensive!”
Speaker 2: “Ugh! Tell me about it.” 😒 💸 😅
8. OH MY GOD
Modern usage and definition: This phrase is totally dependent on your intonation. It can be used in a variety of ways! It can mean that you’re happy, excited, sad, angry, tired, exasperated — really, pretty much anything. It is most commonly spelled with an uppercase ‘G’.
#1: “Oh my God, I just won the prize! I’m so happy!” 😃 🏆
#2: “Oh my God, this line is so long! It’s going to take forever to checkout.” 😫 🙄
#3: “Oh my God, I’m so angry that people hunt endangered animals!” 😤
(* This phrase can be altered in a couple ways: “Oh my god,” “Oh my goodness,” or “Oh my gosh” for people who’d rather it not have a religious connotation, or would rather not use the religious spelling of “God,” or are in a situation where the original would be inappropriate).
9. SHUT UP!
Traditional definition: In the literal sense, it means to stop talking, or to tell someone else to stop talking.
Modern usage and definition: If you’re surprised, shocked, or want to express disbelief and add a little drama to it, you can respond to someone else in this way. (Watch your intonation on this one, of you might sound angry, and like you’re actually telling someone to be quiet).
Speaker 1: “Oh my God, I just won the contest!”
Speaker 2: “Shut up! I can’t believe it! I’m so happy for you.”
Modern usage and definition: Used informally to address a man or guy, although it can also be used to address a woman.
Example: “Dude! I can’t believe you won that prize the other day.”
Traditional definition: When you purchase something, or obtain something through exchange or payment is a correct usage of American words and phrases.
Modern usage and definition: To not believe something, or to not accept something as fact or truth.
Example: “Someone emailed my friend and wrote that she won a million dollars. We’re not buying it, because we think it was a prank.”
Modern usage and definition: Used to express that you do not care, or something is not important to you, in a relaxed, go-with-the-flow way. Watch for intonation here, so as to not sound flippant or rude (unless you mean to!).
Speaker 1: “What would you like to eat for lunch?”
Speaker 2: “Whatever! I don’t care. You pick!”
13. FOR REAL
Modern usage and definition: Used to agree with someone, to emphasize something, or to say “really” in a more dramatic way.
Example: “I’m going to become fluent in English for real! I’m 100% determined.”
14. FOR SURE
Modern usage and definition: Similarly to #13, this phrase is used for confirmation, or in agreement.
Example: “This is the best lesson ever, for sure!”
15. DO YOU GET IT?/GOT IT?
Modern usage and definition of American words and phrases: Used to ask someone if they understand what you’re explaining to them. (Got it can also be used as a statement: “That example was hard, but I got it!”).
Example: “We’re finally at the end of this lesson. Did you get it all? Leave us a comment below if you haven’t quite got it yet!”
Check out more awesome examples in our video lesson below!