The Way You Say These 9 Words Can Help Reveal Where You Grew Up

Blank_US_Map.svg: User:Theshibboleth

After college, I moved across the country to start my professional life in a new city. One of the first things I noticed was that some of the words I commonly used were not used at all in this part of the country. For example, what do you call a carbonated soft drink like Coke or Pepsi? I grew up calling it “pop,” but in my new town, everyone called it “soda.” Over the years, I’ve trained myself to say “soda” instead of “pop,” but that is just one of many examples of words that are different depending on where you grew up. I still say multiple words that give away where I grew up, and you probably do too.

Scroll down to discover 9 words that may reveal the part of the United States where you grew up.

  1. What do you say when you’re talking to a group of people?

    “Y’all” is the common expression in the southern states from Texas over to Virginia, but the rest of the United States says “you guys.” If you grew up saying “you all,” you’re probably from Kentucky, and if you grew up saying “yinz,” you’re probably from Pittsburg. If you say “youse,” chances are you’re either from New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

  2. What do you call bugs that glow at night?

    If you answered “fireflys,” you most likely grew up in the western half of the United States, Alaska, Hawaii or one of the northern states like Michigan or somewhere in New England. Most of the midwest and states in the south say “lightening bugs,” although Florida leans more towards “fireflys.”

  3. What do you call a carbonated beverage like Coke or Pepsi?


    The fact that I grew up saying “pop” means I’m either from the midwest or a western state in the north. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri and New England, the common word to use is “soda.” In the southern states, “Coke” is the common word.

  4. What do you call it when someone sells items at their home?

    Garage sale

    The middle of the U.S. from Texas up to North Dakota most people say “garage sale.” Hawaii and Alaska prefer “garage sale” too. Parts of the western and eastern U.S. call it a “yard sale.” Personally, we think it depends on whether the sale is in the garage or the yard. If you say “rummage sale,” you must be from Wisconsin, and if you call it a “tag sale,” you’re either from Connecticut or Massachusetts.

  5. What is a big truck called that hauls freight?

    Most of the U.S. calls it a “semi-truck” or a “semi.” The eastern states from Maine down to South Carolina call it a “tractor trailer.” Southern states from Alabama to parts of Texas call it an “eighteen wheeler.”

  6. Where do you throw away your trash?

    If you said “trash can,” you’re most likely from Alaska, Hawaii or the southern half of the U.S. If you said “garbage can,” you’re most likely from the northern half of the U.S., with the exception of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts which prefer “trash can.”

  7. What do you call athletic shoes?

    Most of the country says “tennis shoes,” but New England and the southern tip of Florida says “sneakers.” Meanwhile, Chicago and Cincinnati residents say “gym shoes” and Hawaii just says “shoes.”

  8. What is the machine called that you drink water from in a public place?

    The western half of the country as well as Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa call it a “drinking fountain.” The rest of the country calls it a “water fountain.” However, parts of Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island call it a “bubbler.”

  9. How many syllables are there in the word “caramel”?

    If you answered “two,” then you agree with most of the country; however, people who live in Hawaii, along the coast in California, most of the eastern states from Maine down to Florida, plus southern states over to parts of Texas pronounce the word with 3 syllables, saying “care-a-mel” instead of “car-mel.”