UK vs USA: 15 things not to say in the USA

  • What not to say in the USA

Travelling in the USA really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and along the way, you are sure to meet some interesting characters that will offer a closer look into rural Americana. However, while One Direction, Bond and Downton Abbey have made sure that the Americans have undergone a 'British Invasion' recently, it won't take long for you to realise how far apart us Brits are from our Yank counterparts. And a slip here or there may end up with some disgruntled locals.

Here are 15 things you should avoid saying in the grand land of the US of A if you are to have a truly smooth trip...

1. Swearing in the UK can often be seen as having a well-rounded sense of humour. Not so much in the U.S., where it is seen as coarse and vulgar. Maybe calm it with the expletives. 

 

2. Talking of dodgy conversations, discussing your sex life is a bit of a grey area. It is increasingly becoming more commonplace among young people in the USA, but the older conservative lot are sure to look at you in horror.

 

3. We Brits have a tendency to say sorry, a lot. Bashed into someone? Sorry. Someone steps onto your foot? Sorry. In the US, it's taken more literally, so maybe not say it if you just need someone to move out of your way.

 

4. While it may not offend everyone, the term 'Yank' doesn't always go down well, especially in the deep south.

 

5. 'You alright?' is a phrase we often use for greetings; it is actually becoming less common to hear 'hello'. Either way, Americans tend to take it literally and will let you know exactly how they are doing.

 

6. British wit is often a middle ground between being friendly and offensive – we're too uptight to say how we really feel in Britain, so it's all banter banter. In the U.S., it's a no no. Don't call someone a dick basically.

 

7. Try and ease it with your accent. While Manchester and Newcastle are just 200 miles apart, there are nearly 60 accents between them, but there are none between LA and San Francisco, which are over 300 miles apart. Those particularly on the West Coast just won't *get* it.

 

8. Try and not make it clear to Americans that they don't share the same historical prowess that we do. Actually, don't mention history at all – do we need to remind you of their War of Independence?

 

9. Private schools in the USA are known as 'public schools' and our public schools are their state schools. Confusing, we know.

 

10. IT'S FRENCH FRIES! Not chips – otherwise you'll be getting a portion of crisps next to your burger.

 

11. Be careful of using words that wouldn't be regarded as offensive in English – fag for cigarettes, the list goes on.

 

12. In the USA, fannies are what they call their bums, and here it has a totally different meaning. Don't say it and expect people to giggle – they won't.

 

13. Bizarrely enough, the Americans love our royal family more than we do, so what might be a joke about Princess Diana or the Queen may end with a frosty reception.

 

14. All the standard terms – football vs soccer, lift vs elevator, trousers vs pants, pavement vs sidewalk – make sure you're up to scratch on the lingo.

 

15. All in all, we would say try and avoid criticising America as a whole. While we often poke fun at Britain, there is a strong sense of nationalism and loyalty over there.

 

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