American Phrase Book


Many people moving to the U.S assume that they pretty much know English. After all, they have studied the language and watched many hours of American TV.

Upon arrival it is therefore often to their surprise how many seemingly simple phrases actually turn out to mean something completely different in the US American variant of the English language. Interpreting these phrases literally, results in misunderstandings that can at times lead to severe complications.

This phrase book is aimed to help newcomers to the U.S understand what some popular local idioms really mean.

More generally, the immigrant should keep in mind a golden rule: US natives will usually phrase everything in a manner that creates the least social friction in any given interaction. In most cases this results in shying away from a negative description or opinion. Almost as often, it even means not saying anything definite, and instead just stating possibilities and options