Why do Americans give their Postal Address when asked where they LIVE ?

When I chat on ICQ or AOL I often ask people where they are from and they give me an anwer like well “I’m From KY” “I’m from CA” “I’m from NY” No offence but I live in Canada and when people ask me where I live I tell them I’m from Toronto. Are Americans so conceited that they think everyone in the world knows the Zip codes for american cities? Or do most of them just not know how to spell the city that they live in ?
I’m not mailing you a letter I’m asking people where they live. Whats the reason most Americans give out Zip codes. There are other people on the net other than Americans.
Daniel…M4Y 1K2 TO, ON, CA

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not to nitpick but a zip code is a 5 digit number, CA is just an abbreviation. It has nothing to do with postal codes. Now it would be different if you asked me where i lived and instead of saying Redomnd WA i said 98052 that would be a zip code.

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

These are not"Zip codes for american cities". They are abbreviations for American STATES.

Specifically, in your example, Kentucky, California, and New York.

It is not clear whether you are bothered by the use of abbreviations, or whether we refer to our home state rather than home city. How would you feel about someone who wrote “I’m from PQ” or “I’m from BC”?

I always give the state because no one ever knows where Silver Spring is in Maryland. However, most of the time I just say I live near Washington DC - it’s close enough, and then most people know where it is…

Dandmb50–it’s just force of habit. We all use the 2 character state abbreviations so often, we forget those outside the US don’t automatically know them. Aren’t there two-character abbreviations for the provinces?

[These are not “Zip codes for american cities”. They are abbreviations for American STATES.
Specifically, in your example, Kentucky, California, and New York.]

Well there you go but the same thing applies do Americans think that everyone in the world knows the abbreviations of your state or city. We just tell people where we live because we realize that people from all over the world may not know “our” abbriviations. Don’t get me wrong I love the USA and know most of the abreviations but always wondered why Americans don’t say where they’re from.

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Probably just a habit now. I have gone so long typing or writing GA that I seldom spell out Georgia. Just assume if it is a 2 character representation then it is a US State. Cities are not as often abbreviated. LA is Louisiana, but L.A. is Los Angeles. Never use the periods for the states.


Actually falcon, I do know where Silver Springs is…my mother grew up in Takoma Park, and most of her family still lives in Takoma Park or Silver Springs.

>>Being Chaotic Evil means never having to say your sorry…unless the other guy is bigger than you.<<

—The dragon observes

Frankly I never say I’m from NY, but then again I don’t get into the chat thing much. When asked where I’m from I always say " near Cooperstown". Even people who aren’t baseball fans seem to know where I’m talking about. Besides when people say NY how do you know if they’re talking about the city or the state, and believe me there is a huge difference.

Why do you abbreviate your location as “Georgia”, Jeffrey? I mean, how am I supposed to know if you live in the Georgia, USA or the Republic of Georgia? Please, for the sake of convenience locate yourself using standard longitude and latitude!

Yeah, and for gods sake include minutes and seconds, cause I could spend all damn night jockying my satelite around looking for … uh, nevermind.

Call me a moldy fig, but I’ve ALWAYS hated the two-letter state abbreviations.

Ah, for the days when I could go climbing in Colo., sun myself in Calif. and Fla., gamble in Nev., and go for a sail on a Minn. lake!

(Canadians: please read as Colorado, California, Florida, Nevada, Minnesota.)


I am sorry Alpha, what was I thinking.

I live in Georgia, USA. The Long/Lat is about 84 degrees 30 minutes/ about 34 degrees.

I do not have a resource that gets me any closer than that.


Keeves, I give up. What’s PQ?

In college, I worked part time at the US post office in North Suburban, IL - a mail sorting facility. (it’s got its own zip code: 60199). (Illinois, that is.)

Addresses on mail are required to use these 2-letter abbreviations for states, so if you use the full state name or a quaint abbreviation, it might not get delivered.

When sorting mail, I was amused by some of addresses on letters, including:

H. E. , IL (for Hoffman Estates, of course(?))

Or just: City

The latter was probably intended for the ‘local’ slot at the neighborhood post office. Bad idea.

A lot of mail for Ontario, CA (California) got misdirected to Canada, and a lot of mail to countries in Central America (abbreviated C.A. as the final line on the address) got misdirected to California.

I don’t know enough French to sure of exactly what PQ means, but I figure “Province of Quebec” to be close enough.

For those of us who live within the range of the Thomas Guides (published from Los Angeles County, CA) the ZIP Codes can be baffling. There is a part of my ZIP Code, Gardena 90248, which is in L. A. City; this zone has a boundary with Los Angeles 90044–which is in the L. A. Postal Zone but not part of any city–as shown in the Thomas ZIP Code atlas. (I live within the city limits of Gardena, which is generally south of central Los Angeles.)

I would think any one conversant enough with US geography to have a concept of “Nevada” would be able to make an educated guess about “NV”–next time the situation arises, maybe I’ll just say “Winnemucca”, and wait for the response.
–Alan Q

I have no sympathy for someone who cannot be bothered to learn the abbreviations for the various United States. Not all of us are blessed (or cursed) with living near an immediately recognizable big city.

Do you mean when someone tells you “I’m from KY” you have to ask them where and what that is? Think it’s some kind of jelly or something?

OK, I’VE JUST ABOUT HAD ENOUGH!!! NOW WE CAN’T GIVE PROPER DIRECTIONS!! INVASION NOW!!! Load the dogs, coolers, and lawn chairs into the trucks. We’re going north to teach these Molson-swilling, World Series-stealin’, bilingual tuke-wearin’, puck lovers a serious lesson!! (They have Wal-Marts in Toronto?) WHO’S WITH ME???

“…send lawyers, guns, and money…”

 Warren Zevon

Okay, enough lurking - I’ve got to wade into this mess …

  1. I was born in and currently live in Canada and I will never apologize for this. I lived in the States for 12, 13 years (in CA, by the way), I had a choice and I chose here. So there.

  2. Bluepony: just try to invade. Ha! We’ll arrange a freak snowstorm and when you slide into the ditch we’ll beat you sensless with our walrus tusks. We won’t even feel your defensive punches through our parkas.

  3. Just about every Canadian knows the official state abbreviations, and yes, we have official province abbrevs. as well. And, PQ is (as far as I can tell) Province of Quebec - we don’t know what their official country code will be once they finally declare independance.

  4. I believe I can paraphrase the OP question as follows: why, when you are asked where you live, do you just give a state instead of a more precise location?

Okay, now then. Canada only has four or five cities of more than a million people, and we tend to identify outselves very closely to our city of residence. I think this is part of the answer. Also, I’ve been on the web for many years now, I’ve seen a bunch of strang s**t here and often I don’t want people to have too much specific information about me. So, even though I live in (city name deleted), I’ll tell people that I live in Western Canada or maybe in AB.

Figure that one out…