I am a 17-year-old male. I want to learn to speak a general American accent by imitating native speakers with this accent.

What age group should I be imitating, so I don't sound weird? Should I imitate someone around 15-30? 15-40? How about 17-30 or even 17-50?

Is there any difference between a 17-year-old and a 40-year-old in their way of speaking? At what point do the age groups start to differ?

  • Sorry, but there is no general American accent. You'll have to pick a specific section of the country and go from there. There are always differences between people in different age groups, as there is in any country.
    – FeliniusRex
    Mar 31, 2021 at 18:07
  • @FelinusRex I think the term "General American" covers a set of closely related accents rather than an exactly uniform norm. But is it really worth while for a learner to pick a specific part of the US? I think that is doubtful.
    – rjpond
    Mar 31, 2021 at 18:32
  • 3
    You should not vandalise your questions. Apr 13, 2021 at 1:56

1 Answer 1


There are differences in accent between age groups, but these are not as great as the differences between individuals of the same age. And "General American" is a spectrum of accents from a wide area of America (from the West, Northern Mid-west, and parts of New England). It is not truly a single accent. Moreover, most people will be able to "code switch", and change their accent. It's all subtle, complex, and learners really don't need to worry about it because you can be understood even with an accent.

You should try to find your own voice, using several different models. You should not restrict yourself to people of a single age/gender/race/region/social-class. Native speakers don't learn by only listening to one person!

If are talking about "the accent spoken by people on American TV shows", there are a whole range of accents. Many are in the "General American" spectrum. But there are lots of variation and many who are not General American if you listen carefully.

So don't worry about age.

Your bigger problem is not having people to interact with. Listening is useful, but unless you are speaking and being understood, you can't practice your accent.

  • You don't need to imitate. You should try to find your own voice, and the best way to do this is to interact with a wide range of voices.
    – James K
    Apr 5, 2021 at 11:07

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