English language prevalence in the United States. Darker shades of blue indicate higher concentrations of native English speakers in the corresponding states
American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States.
English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and is the common language used by the federal government, to the extent that all laws and compulsory education are practiced in English. Although not an officially established language of the whole country, English is considered the de facto language and is given official status by 32 of the 50 state governments. As an example, while both Spanish and English have equivalent status in the local courts of Puerto Rico, under federal law, English is the official language for any matters being referred to the United States district court for the territory.
American English varieties form a linguistic continuum of dialects more similar to each other than to English dialects of other countries, including some common pronunciations and other features found nationwide. Any North American Englishaccent perceived as free of noticeably local, ethnic, or cultural markers is popularly called "General" or "Standard" American, a fairly uniform standard of broadcast mass media and the highly educated. Otherwise, according to Labov, with the major exception of Southern American English, regional accents throughout the country are not yielding to this standard, and historical and present linguistic evidence does not support the notion of there being one single "mainstream" American accent. On the contrary, the sound of American English continues to evolve, with some local accents disappearing, but several larger regional accents emerging.
While written American English is largely standardized across the country and its dialects are mutually intelligible, there are several recognizable regional and ethnic accents as well as some vocabulary differences.
The regional sounds of present-day American English are reportedly engaged in a complex phenomenon of "both convergence and divergence": some accents are homogenizing and levelling, while others are diversifying and deviating further away from one another.
The most marked accents of the country are New York City and Southern accents. Southern speech is defined by the aɪ/ vowel losing its gliding quality to approach [aː~äː], the initiation event for a complicated Southern vowel shift, including a "Southern drawl" that makes short front vowels into distinct-sounding gliding vowels. The strongest Southern sub-varieties exist in southern Appalachia and certain areas of Texas. Non-Southern Americans tend to stereotype Southern accents negatively, as "hick", "hillbilly", or "country" accents, while Southerners themselves tend to have mixed judgments of their own accents, including positive associations of easygoingness and humility. Southern accents, plus those spoken in the "Midland" (the vast band between the traditional dialect regions of the North and the South), tend to front the vowels of GOOSE, GOAT, MOUTH, and STRUT.
Below, nine major American English regional accents are defined by their particular combinations of certain characteristics:
In 2010, William Labov noted that Great Lakes, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Western accents have undergone "vigorous new sound changes" since the mid-nineteenth century onwards, so they "are now more different from each other than they were fifty or a hundred years ago".  However, a General American sound system also has some controversial degree of influence, for example, gradually ousting local accents in urban areas of the South and at least some in the Inland North. Rather than one particular accent, "General American" can be defined as any American accent that does not incorporate features associated with some particular region, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. General American features are embraced most by Americans who are highly educated or in the most formal contexts, and regional accents with the most "General American" native features include North Midland, Western New England. and Western accents. Typical General American features include rhoticity, the father–bother merger, Mary–marry–merry merger, and pre-nasal "short a" tensing.[note 1]