The Layperson’s Guide to American English

A lot of people have grammar anxiety so we’ll skip right over the part that explains how British English has twelve tenses and a subjunctive while US English has only three (simple past, simple present, simple future), hence common US phrases such as, “I didn’t do that yet.”

We’ll also skip over lexical richness so we won’t dwell on the fact that while educated US citizens employ an active vocabulary of around 500 words day in and day out, even an uneducated British person’s typical active vocabulary is 3,700 words.

What we will focus on is explaining common words and how they may not mean to foreigners what they mean to US citizens.

Because, c’mon, it’s fun.

So without further ado here’s a brief and very incomplete glossary of terms:

Unique = only 50,000,000 just like it

Secret = something everyone knows and that we’re going to tell you once again just in case you’ve forgotten

Miracle = a quotidian and very ordinary event or item such as shampoo

Must-Have = something you don’t need and won’t even remember after you’ve bought one

Astonishing = boring and obvious (see also Mind Bending)

Fake News = true fact-based statements

Alternative Facts = lies

Trump = something unbelievably stupid and also so unbelievably repellent that his wife has to take anti-emetics before agreeing to have her image photoshopped into the same picture as him

Safe Space = a place unsafe for facts and reasoning

Politically Correct = lazy feel-good posturing

Republican = stupid, willfully ignorant, amoral, and venal

Democrat = hopelessly confused

Proven = I just made this up

Scientific = I just made this up

All-New = been sitting on the shelf for ages, now in a slightly new wrapper

Improved = now in a slightly new wrapper

Guaranteed = not guaranteed in any way

Limited Availability = we’ve got so many cluttering up the warehouse we’ve lost count

This is of course a very incomplete list, so I’m going to call it Allan’s Complete List of Secret American Word Meanings.

Guaranteed, scientific, and totally mind bending!

Limited availability, so read now while stocks last.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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