13 Things You Should Never Say in Texas

Desert outside El Paso, Texas | © Hadley Garland / Flickr
Desert outside El Paso, Texas | © Hadley Garland / Flickr
Photo of Hannah Phillips
22 June 2017

Texans are known for their state pride, incredible hospitality, and easy-going nature. Maybe it’s the sunny climate or the locally sourced beer, but few things can really upset a Texan for long. If you would rather avoid awkwardness altogether, of course, these are the 13 things you should never say in the Lone Star State.

“So do you ride a horse to school?”

No. In fact, you are more likely to meet Texans who have never ridden a horse at all. Not every Texan owns a large ranch outside the city. And if they do happen to own land large enough to keep a horse, they also have a vehicle—or two. In cities such as Austin and San Antonio, public transportation makes it almost impossible to get far beyond certain areas of downtown without a car.

Not everyone rides a horse in Texas | Anne Worner/Flickr

“Where are your cowboy hat and boots?”

See above. Not all Texans own land or compete at the rodeo every weekend. And though most Texans probably own a pair of boots at least, the fashion choice is more sartorial than practical.

Cowboy Boots | Echo Valley Ranch/Flickr

“It’s too hot outside.”

Yes, it is. Get used to it. Between breweries, Barton Springs, and frozen margaritas, Texans have turned the scorching summer heat to their advantage with countless ways to cool down. Don’t complain; make the most of it! Try floating the San Marcos, Guadalupe, or Comal Rivers outside San Marcos; take a dip at Barton Springs Pool in Austin; or sip a locally sourced craft beer in the Texas Hill Country.

San Marcos River | Kelly V/Flickr

“Why shouldn’t I mess with Texas?”

Don’t do it. While the slogan began as an advertising campaign to reduce littering on Texas highways, it’s an identity statement that embodies the Lone Star State (and Texans in general) today. If someone says “Don’t Mess With Texas,” it could mean a couple of things: don’t pick a fight you can’t finish or don’t litter.

Don't Mess with Texas | © Brionv/Flickr

“Y’all is not a real word.”

In Texas, the plural form of “you” is “y’all”—a convenient contraction that shows no signs of dying out. Don’t try to fight the grammar: adopt it. The one-syllable word saves both time (“you all?”—No, thanks) and confusion (“you”—who, just me? Or are you referring to them too?). The expression aptly and succinctly describes a group of people—and don’t try to tell a Texan otherwise.

Hey Y'all | © Gregory Morris/Flickr

“Do you carry a gun?”

While Texas does allow concealed carry handguns (with the appropriate permit), this does not mean everyone you meet is hiding one. Also, it’s not really any of your business.

Cabela's near Austin | Sean Savage/Flickr

“Tacos are not a breakfast food.”

Trust us—you haven’t lived until you’ve tried breakfast tacos. The Lone Star State’s answer to a full English fry up, breakfast tacos are not just the ultimate hangover cure, but also the perfect party food, post-workout snack, and more. Try a basic egg, bacon, and cheese on a tortilla, or be adventurous at places such as Taco Deli, Vera Cruz All Natural, and more.

“I love Mexican food! Chipotle is my favorite.”

Oh dear. Yes, Chipotle serves guacamole and fajitas, but for an authentic Tex-Mex experience, you need to visit a restaurant that isn’t part of a large, national chain. In Austin, try the historic Matt’s El Rancho or Fonda San Miguel, a newer favorite such as Mi Madre’s, or just track down a local food truck!

“Why should I Remember the Alamo?”

Texans’ famous state pride primarily stems from the territory’s history as an independent republic before its annexation as the 28th state. Honoring the heroic sacrifice of a small group of outnumbered Texans at the Battle of the Alamo, “Remember the Alamo” is the battle cry that eventually won independence from Mexico. Texans still celebrate Texas Independence Day on March 2nd every year and the Battle of the Alamo on March 6th.

The Alamo | © Laura Bernhardt/Flickr

“Why does the whole state shut down when it snows?”

“Snow” is a loose term in Texas—there’s not usually a lot of it, and it doesn’t stick around. A fluke snowfall quickly turns into dangerous ice in Texas, making the roads slick and slowing traffic to a standstill. If you really want to make a Texan’s eye roll, tell them about winters up north and complain about how Texas lacks the proper infrastructure to respond to winter weather.

Icy roads in Texas | Greg Westfall/Flickr

“Come over for BBQ!” (When you really mean: “Let’s grill hot dogs and burgers!”)

What’s in a name? When it comes to barbecue, Texans have an entirely different definition. If you mean “let’s have a party and make hot food,” don’t call it barbecue, which to a Texan will specifically entail brisket, smoked sausage, and beef ribs. You will only disappoint.

Texas Barbecue | vxla/Flickr

“I thought Texans were mostly uneducated, uncultured rednecks.”

Like all sweeping generalizations, this assumption is neither accurate nor fair. Texas is home to some of the top universities in the country and the world, including the University of Texas, where 18 research disciplines recently ranked in the top 10 worldwide. As for culture, Texas is an international destination for contemporary art, ballet, theater, live music, and more.

Blue Lapis Light Aerial Dance, based in Austin | Earl McGehee/Flickr

“Do you listen to anything besides country music?”

Most Texans do take a lot of pride in icons such as Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett, but Texas is also the birthplace of Beyoncé, Janis Joplin, Selena, Stevie Ray Vaughan and so many others. And with over 27 million residents, it should come as no surprise that there is more than one radio channel across the Lone Star State.

Beyoncé | Dylan/Flickr

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