How to Fake a Convincing American Accent

American accents vary greatly from region to region. If you do not wish to be spotted as a fake, determine the region you wish to imitate and start with a combination of key phrases from that area.


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    Determine the region you wish to imitate. Knowing the difference between a Texan's drawl and the southern style of someone from Mississippi or Tennessee can make a world of difference. Midwestern accents from areas such as Chicago, Illinois, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St. Paul, Minnesota vary as well. The New York accent may be one of the most distinct American accents, and the Bostonian accent is also well-known.
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    Learn key phrases from the region you wish to imitate. A southern constant is the word "y'all," which is a contraction of "you all" and used as a plural form of "you." If from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, people will say "yinz" when referring to "you" (plural) Massachusetts and some other New England States use "wicked" to show intensity of action, "That was a wicked bad car accident." or "That test was wicked easy." Massachusetts also has the famous Boston accent. One phrase to say in that is, "Park the car at Harvard Yard and get a cup of coffee," but say all the a's long. So, it would end up sounding like, "Pahk the cah in Hahvehd yahd and get a cup of caffee.".
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    Study films made by independent companies that were born and bred in the region you wish to imitate. For example, if you wish to speak with a Mississippi accent, find a film that is both located in and produced by a company based in Mississippi.
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    Practice the key words and phrases, taking special care to notice where you place stresses and drop or add letters (for example, Wisconsinites have a tendency to add the letter "t" at the end of words that end with a double-s, like "acrosst" instead of "across" and Connecticuters tend to either drop the "d" or stress on it less when in the middle of a word like "ranom" instead of "random").
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    Try to expand these special rules (the dropped and added letters, where stresses are placed) into the rest of your vocabulary.
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    If going for a "Valley Girl" way of speaking (girls), say things such as "like" (as an interjection), "oh my god", and "a lot." (for example, So I was, like, walking down the street, and this guy was wearing, like, the weirdest hat, I was like 'Oh my god' cause, yeah.) Many modern-day teenage and pre-teen girls also speak like this. Valley Girl speech did not hit America until the 1980s and was copied straight from the movies. Elders and adults should not speak like Valley Girls and prefer not to. Some people find making the Valley Girl accent offensive.
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    Pronounce these words differently:
    • Been: Say "Bin" or "Ben", not "Been"
    • Again: Rhymes with "ten" (-short a sound- ga-en-)
    • Often: The American pronunciation of "often" rhymes with "coffin", though many people (especially younger generations) use the British pronunciation of "off-tin".
    • Tomato: Say Toemaytoe.
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    Use tense Short A's. What is that, you ask? Most Americans have two ways of pronouncing their short A's (tense and lax). The tense A is pronounced with the tongue slightly higher in the mouth, so that it sounds closer to "eh-uh", "ay-uh", or "ee-yuh". Most Americans use the Tense A before M or N, and in some regions S and G. Every other short A is lax, just like with British people. The difference between the two short A sounds gets weaker with each generation, and gets stronger as you go towards the south, where "Ian" and "Anne" are said the same. Also, in California, a Long A is used for "ang" or "ank", so that "rang" sounds closer to "rain" than "ran".


  • As mentioned above, Valley Girls are few and far between. The rest of California has very little accent, but living here, I have noticed a couple quirks- Californians pronounce "water" like "wadder"- in fact, many sharp Ts sound like Ds. If a Californian says their tens out loud, it sounds like "ten, twenty, thirdy, forty, fifty, sixty, sevendy, eighty, nindey, and one hundred."
  • Similarly, most of the country says "co-ffee" but in some areas of New Jersey/New York, they say "caw-ffee."
  • Keep an eye on region-specific terms. For example, in northeastern Pennsylvania, people drink soda instead of pop and eat hoagies rather than subs. Dialect surveys and similar sites can be of use.
  • Maryland has accents within their own accent. Watch out of people who think they can do a Baltimore accent. They usually cannot unless they are not trying.
  • When trying to convince people of your American-ess, it's helpful to know the vocabulary of who you're conversing with. Americans say "truck" instead of "lorry," "faucet" instead of "tap," "toilet" or "bathroom" instead of "loo," and so on. Also, use "instead" rather than "rather" (or instead of, I should say), and "soda" instead of "pop." (Although in some parts of America, mainly the North, people have been known to say the latter). In places like western New York, the words are used interchangeably. Also keep in mind the words people use often that aren't used in your home country.
  • In the Midwestern accent, it's typical for people, especially the older generation, to occasionally slip up and say "warsh" for "wash," as in "I warshed (washed) my clothes in the Warshington (Washington) river." They also tend to speak with a very soft southern twang, as in their pronunciation of nothing ("nuthen") and use of "ain't."
  • Some accents are easier to imitate than others. For example, unless you are a frequent visitor or live in or around the New Orleans area, avoid doing a Cajun accent until you are absolutely positive you have it down cold. Good imitators are few and far between and any variations are quickly spotted as fakes by the natives.
  • Try researching their language and accent or hear a person say the accent.
  • If you are serious about learning the Standard or General American Accent you can utilize books and courses that offer comprehensive tuition on the subject matter, such as the course 'Learn the American Accent- fast'- a standard in many schools around the world.
  • In Chicago, instead of saying "Where are you?", we'll say "Where are you at?". Also, people with very strong Chicago accents may hiss their s's, and add s's at the end of store names. Examples: Jewel becomes Jewels, Jewel-Osco because Jewel-Oscos, Walmart becomes Walmarts, Target becomes Targets, etc.
  • Know that the same word is pronounced differently in different states. In New Jersey (or other Atlantic states.) , we say "wudder," unlike the rest of the country, which calls it "wahter." Florida says "wader."
  • "Soften" your accent.


  • Hollywood films made by the big companies are consistently unreliable in how accents are portrayed. For example, if you imitate the Louisiana accents from the movie "Big Easy" (starring Dennis Quaid) you will be quickly spotted as a fake. Valley Girl Accents from the movie Valley Girl or Clueless will be spotted as a fake. These accents are very dramatic versions of the "real thing" for theatrical purposes.
  • Be careful not to offend anyone when doing an accent (for example if you make a Valley Girl accent in California, people will be offended, that is a small fringe of the population).
  • This is just not the American accent, it is more of a British accent.

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Categories: Speech Styles