How to sound like a New Yorker: 8 useful phrases

Our Campus Support Coordinator at Kings New York shares some expressions that you'll hear a lot in New York!

America is a huge country, which means that its different states and regions have unique sets of words and expressions that they use, which may sound strange, or even funny, to visitors. Americans from other states can often identify New Yorkers not only by their accents, but by certain words and expressions they use in every day conversation!

Check them out:

  1. The city — the borough of Manhattan
    New Yorkers from other boroughs will know you are talking about Manhattan if you simply say “the city”
    e.g. “Are you going into the city for dinner tonight?”

  2. To wait on line — to wait in line
    No, they are not referring to being on the internet!
    e.g. “I am going to go wait on line to pay for this t-shirt.”

  3. Mad — very
    Some New Yorkers use “mad” as slang for “very”. When you hear a New Yorker say mad, don’t assume they are angry!
    e.g. “That TV show was mad funny.”

  4. The subway — the metro
    In Europe, and in other parts of the country, it is called the metro. In New York it is exclusively called “the subway” or “the train.”
    e.g. “Are you going to take the bus or the subway to the party?

  5. Hero — a big sandwich
    Americans are notorious for having different words for a thick sandwich filled with meats and cheeses. In Philadelphia, it’s called a hoagie. In other states, it’s called a sub. In a New York Deli? It’s a hero.
    e.g. “I would like a hero with turkey and cheddar cheese, please.”

  6. New York minute — a very short amount of time
    New Yorkers are known to do everything fast — talk fast, walk fast, and get everything done fast. That is the origin of this NY expression!
    e.g. “I was in and out of that store in a New York minute!”

  7. Bodega — convenience store/ small grocery store
    In New York City, there are a ton of small corner stores that sell snacks, cigarettes, lottery tickets, liquor, amongst other things. These little stores are often called “convenience stores” in other parts of the country, but in New York, they are bodegas.
    e.g. “I’m going to run into this bodega and buy chips and soda.”

  8. A slice — a piece of pizza
    New Yorkers love their pizza. If you go into the city, you will see pizzerias everywhere, and New Yorkers ordering slices of all kinds. A plain slice? Refers to just cheese pizza.
    e.g. “Ill have a plain slice and a coke, please.”

Learn these words and expressions and you will sound like a local in no time at all!

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