Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Language and American Culture | "Time is Money"

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 @ 09:35 AM

language in american cultureWhat is the key to being successful in your life and career in the US?

I think the key is understanding the people.

You need to understand not only the English language but also American culture.

Expressions, idioms and common sayings reflect American cultural values.

A great example of an American English expression is "time is money". 

In the United States, we schedule our days based on "clock time". 

Many people are constantly monitoring their watches as a way of determining when an activity should begin, when it should end and to avoid being late.

Is this true in your culture?

If not, keep reading.  We have some advice if you are working and living in the United States.



How does time orientation affect your work at an American company?


In the American business world, Edward T. Hall said "time is sacred."

Many Americans value schedules, tasks and objectives.

They work hard to complete one project before starting the next.

The most important thing is to "get the job done." 

In the United States, it is not uncommon to schedule meetings back-to-back, skip lunch or eat a sandwich at your desk.


Time expressions in the English language:


  • To work overtime: To work more hours than you are scheduled for, in order to complete a project or a task.
  • To be out of time: To have no time remaining.
  • To happen in the nick of time: Something happens just time, at the last possible second
  • To have spare time: To have extra time.
  • To be on time: To arrive at a destination at the time that you are supposed to arrive.



When you're working in the United States...


When you are working at an American company with coworkers from the US and your coworker or boss says that a project is due on Friday at 3pm, he usually means Friday at 3pm.

Perhaps in your culture, this could mean Friday at 4pm or 5pm or even the next week.

It is important to remember cultural differences when it comes to time!


Remember, understanding your own time orientation and how it is different from the time orientation in the United States is the key to succeeding in your career and your daily life in your new culture.


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 photo credit- escribium

Topics: English Lessons, United States Culture

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