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  1. #1
    pinkie9 is offline Member
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    Default How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Hello,

    I know American people call the United States "the States" in casual conversations.
    Would it be weired if non-native speakers say "the States" when talking to American people?
    For example, "This is the way Japanese people do. How do people do this in the States?"
    Should we say "the U.S.", "the United States", or "America" instead?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    NOT A TEACHER

    This is not a case of how non-natives should refer the the United States of America. If it is clear from the context that "States" refers to the USA, then sure, by all means, do use "States". It's very common. However, if you want to be specific and avoid ambiguity, then "America", " the US" or "the USA" would be more appropriate. This is just my opinion. "States" can refer to a number of things, but it often means the "USA". However, I usually prefer to avoid ambiguties and I would rather use the "US" or the "USA".

    Edit: the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English says that "States" is an informal way to refer to the USA:

    States, the / steɪts /
    an informal name for the united states of america



    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 21-Jun-2012 at 14:45.

  3. #3
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Quote Originally Posted by pinkie9 View Post
    Hello,

    I know American people call the United States "the States" in casual conversations.
    Would it be weired if non-native speakers say "the States" when talking to American people?
    For example, "This is the way Japanese people do. How do people do this in the States?"
    Should we say "the U.S.", "the United States", or "America" instead?

    Thank you in advance.
    Context, of course, and the person to whom you are speaking would suggest the term to use, but in general, any of those terms are OK. I would use "the U.S." if I were from another country and speaking to a native American.

  4. #4
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    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Personally, I try not to use "America" to talk about the US, since America is far larger than the US alone, and even in the US there are people aware of that fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    Context, of course, and the person to whom you are speaking would suggest the term to use, but in general, any of those terms are OK. I would use "the U.S." if I were from another country and speaking to a native American.

    And what would you use if you were talking to a WASP, or an Afro-American, an Asian-American...?

    Greetings,

    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  5. #5
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    Personally, I try not to use "America" to talk about the US, since America is far larger than the US alone, and even in the US there are people aware of that fact.
    Yes, I agree with that, but if it's clear from the context that "America" refers to the United States of America and not to North America or South America, then the usage is appropriate in my opinion.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 21-Jun-2012 at 15:17.

  6. #6
    charliedeut's Avatar
    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    Yes, I agree with that, but if it's clear from the context that "America" refers to the United States of America and not to North America or South America, then the usage is appropriate in my opinion.
    Hi CS,

    That's the reason I started my post with "personally", to state my personal opinion. I never said it was wrong, just that I tend not to use it.

    And now, a toast: "To easily-settled misunderstandings!"


    Greetings,

    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  7. #7
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    Hi CS,

    That's the reason I started my post with "personally", to state my personal opinion. I never said it was wrong, just that I tend not to use it.

    And now, a toast: "To easily-settled misunderstandings!"


    Greetings,

    charliedeut
    Two different things: native Americans and Native Americans.

  8. #8
    charliedeut's Avatar
    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Two different things: native Americans and Native Americans.
    Hi Dave,

    Whenever I have met people born in the US, they never said "I'm a native American." They always said "I was born in Topeka, Kansas" (or wherever their birthplace was).


    Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to reading opinions from native English speakers and teachers and, who knows, start a world-wide debate on the topic!

    Greetings,

    charlideut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  9. #9
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Due to the potential for misunderstanding, the term is not really used by your run-of-the-mill non "Indian" born-in-the-USA American. Especially in spoken form. But I understood the original poster perfectly. I am a native American. I'm certainly not native to anywhere else.

    You are correct that an American whom you meet would likely tell you a state or city as "where he is from" or "where he was born," but that's not meant to deny that we are also Americans.

  10. #10
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: How should non-native speakers call the United States in casual conversations?

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    Personally, I try not to use "America" to talk about the US, since America is far larger than the US alone, and even in the US there are people aware of that fact.




    And what would you use if you were talking to a WASP, or an Afro-American, an Asian-American...?

    Greetings,

    charliedeut
    Afro-Americans and Asian-Americans can, at the same time, be classified and considered as native Americans. The prefixes, Afro/Asian/Irish/Italian etc. are simply distinctions made for specific purposes. And so, again, any of the terms listed in the original thread would be OK depending on context. The term WASP is a classification that isn't relevant to this discussion.


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