What Do You Call the US?

I was inspired to write this post after many conversations with my Brazilian friends in which they told me about their travels to USA, or about the time they studied abroad in United States. Even some of my more fluent friends use an improper form to talk about the US, which leads me to believe that this post is necessary.

So to be clear, the following are not acceptable:
“I studied abroad in USA last year.”
“I wish to travel to US sometime soon.”
“United States is a beautiful country.”

Here is how you should say it:
“I studied abroad in the United States of America last year.”
“I ¬†wish to travel to the US sometime soon.”
“The United States is a beautiful country.”

The United States of America is known by many names. It is most commonly referred to as the US, the United States, the States, or America.

The full form, the United States of America is hardly used in daily conversation. Most of the time this form is used in a political context, when someone wants to emphasize a positive or negative aspect of the country. For example: “The United States of America is the greatest country in the world!” or “The United States of America is an evil country that goes around policing the rest of the world.”

To avoid making a political statement when all you want to do is indicate which country you are talking about, you should refer to the US as the United States or the US.