Terms: my guy / my dude / bro / bruh / son
Rip. Scribble. Check. Pass.
These were normal work days for Charles. His life was not any more exciting than a stone’s on an average day. At work, it was at least half of the usual. Paintings had more fun hanging on white walls than Charles did at work. Old sneakers had more fun being trodden through the mud on a cold day than Charles did at work. Even the little fruit flies taunted him as they buzzed after each other in the dead-air room; a financial office at a small community college waiting to be demolished and replaced by new facilities.
—Yes, I understand … Okay … But what would you like to do, Sir?
—I just really want to get a loan, man. I was hoping you’d help me out with it.
A fellow student, small and muscular, was asking Charles about his options for paying for his upcoming classes. The student really needed a break, but the school’s policy was strict. The situation was leaving him quite irritated.
Charles told him, —I can’t give you a loan this semester because you still owe money from your past classes.
—Come on, my guy. Are you for real? I really can’t have just one little loan this time? Man, what the hell?
—Really, Sir, I cannot …
—You sure? ‘Cus I bet you can’t even read them pages right.
The student was referring to Charles’s accent, assuming he couldn’t read since his English wasn’t totally natural.
—Hey, bro, you need to back up. We’re all in line here. Just let the man do his job.
But before the small angry student could finish, another larger student calmly grabbed his backpack and shoved him out of the line. The smaller student made a quick gesture to scare the bigger student, but he noticed he would enter into a fight he couldn’t win. He walked away after sucking his teeth and hit the bare office wall hard, one time.
—Thanks for getting him out of here, Charles told the big man.
—Hey, my grandparents were immigrants. I couldn’t let him disrespect you like that.
Charles took advantage of their conversation to ask a question.
—He was pretty mad, but I noticed he called me his “guy.” Is that a bad thing? Because it sounds like he wants me to be his man.
This comment made everybody in the sweaty office laugh; one girl in the back laughed a little too hard.
—That was funny, I’m sorry. No, he wasn’t asking you to be “his guy.” It’s just an expression. It’s how you might refer to someone you’re speaking to. Hey, my guy… My dude is another good one that’s used the same. There are some other more derogatory ones, but these two are good to use with anybody.
—But he also called me bro, like his brother. Is that right?
The big student scratched his chin hairs for a minute, then said;
—Oh. Well, bro is short for “brother,” but it’s the same as with “my guy.” You can use it with any man, doesn’t have to be your real brother. Some people, like me, put more of an “uhhhh” sound to it. Like, bruh. “What’s up, bruh? Wanna buy me a Coke?”
—I get it now.
—Yo, are we still in the classroom? I ain’t got all day, son.
Another student was being impatient and yelled out from his point in line. His comment made the big man turn his head and look at Charles who was staring at him, again, confused.
—And that’s another one! Son. And no, he’s not calling you his actual son …
—Sure ain’t! the loud-mouthed student replied again.
Charles had a jump on the meaning, though.
—Son. It’s the same as calling me “guy” or “bro.” Or “bruh,” even. They’re all the same. Cool alternatives to “man.”
The big guy tapped Charles on the shoulder happily.
—You got it! So, uh, bruh, can you help me with a payment plan for the next two semesters?
Then the loud mouth, —Yeah, me too, my dude!
Charles smiled at the fact that even within that hot, boring, smelly box of an office, he could turn his gruesome job into an exciting real-world English lesson. In addition, he was now able to understand all this action coming at him at once. He ruffled some papers and answered his schoolmates;
—Sure! One financial plan coming up, bro.
- Calling men “my guy,” “bro,” and “son” is very informal, and we usually use it with people of a similar or lesser age to us or with friends, not in formal situations! Do you think you could use these words correctly with a friend of yours? Tell me what you think!
*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference.