Be where you act?

OK, I have that audio tape by Ed Foreman on which he says that he grew up on a farm and his father used to say to him: “Be where you act, boy!” Now, I understand the phrase but according to Google it doesn’t seem very popular. What about you, have you ever heard or even used that expression?


TOEIC listening, photographs: An auto junkyard[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

I’ve never heard that phrase, but I have heard something similar to “be where you at”. It sounds like the southern US dialect to me. Are you sure about the word ‘act’?


Hi Amy, it’s very possible that Foreman says ‘be where you at’ instead of ‘be where you act’ – I’ll have to listen to the phrase again. So, would you classify ‘be where you at’ as a common expression?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A traffic jam[YSaerTTEW443543]

Could it also be: ‘Be where you’re at’?

Everybody wants to be a cat, because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at.The Aristocats

Hi Torsten

I’d say “Where you at?” (for example) would be commonly recognized as a slang formulation. I think Americans who are not from the south might tend to classify it as southern and/or black English. I wouldn’t use it myself. Jamie will probably be able to give you better feedback than I can, but I’d say it would be rarely used in some areas, and more widely used in others.


Torsten … I think you must have mis-heard a phrase. That sounds nothing like anything I have heard in any English dialect. Perhaps some more sentences from the same source might help us understand.

OK, I’ve listened to the phrase a couple of times more and the last part still sounds like “act” to me although it might be quite possible that it’s “Be where you’re at” as Conchita suggested. I actually have tried to contact Ed Foreman’s office regarding his tape although I doubt he’ll respond. I’ll listen to the tape again later and post my findings here…

Thanks a lot for listening to me.

TOEIC listening, photographs: The musicians[YSaerTTEW443543]

I see no reason why the speaker (or his father) could not have coined the phrase-- so it would not necessarily appear in that precise form from a Google search. The point of ‘be where you act’, as you say, Torsten, is intelligible-- don’t bluff, don’t pretend to be something you are not, or something to that effect-- and it is catchy enough as it stands.

Good thought Mister Micawber… although Tamara’s response is persuasive. ‘Be where you’re at’ could be a down-homey, Willl Rogers-ish way of saying be satisfied with who you are, where you are etc.

I also like MM’s take on things. What was the context just before that statement, Torsten? I think that would help.

The context was the following: Ed Foreman was talking about the fact that a lot of people are someplace physically and somewhere else mentally. He said that many of us think the same thoughts every day. He was speaking live to an audience and said: ‘I bet 60% of you are not in this room right now. You are here physically but your thoughts are somewhere else. You worry about the kids, about your job, about your health…’. And that he inserted that phrase his father used to tell him when he worked on the farm.
Does this help?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Three women[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

Another expression comes to mind: It’s time you started to live in the real world. Does that chime with your original quote?


Yes Alan, that’s the idea exactly.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: The herdsman[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

The context brings another expression to mind: (be somewhere) in body but not in mind. Your quote might be basically the opposite of that expression.

In other words, participate in and/or focus on (“be”) what you’re doing here and now (“where you act”) fully.



It’s probably “Be where you at.”

Which reminds me of the redundant statement “Where are you at?” and its ilk.

Hi Tom

That was my first thought. Do you hear that sort of thing often down Nashville way?

Meanwhile, I’ve had another thought:
What if the guy is saying “Beware…” and not “Be where…”? :lol:


Just another piece of information: After Foreman said the phrase, the audience brought into laughter so they obviously found it funny – a reaction he clearly had anticipated.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: The receptionist[YSaerTTEW443543]

Did he happen to say it with a distinct or exaggerated Southern accent? (How does his accent sound otherwise?)

Yes, his accent might have been the reason for the laughter. He might have been imitating his father speaking in a nasal southern accent.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Just checking[YSaerTTEW443543]


Oh my goodness, yes.

I chuckle every time I hear (in the office) something like, “Where you at, boy?”

I can’t help it.

Of course, when I see a company email which says:

“It’s okay to wear jean tomorrow!”

…that causes a severe fit of guffawing as well.