“It’s impolite to ask a person where they are from. If they are from Texas, they will tell you. If they are not from Texas, it’s not nice to embarrass them,” the late journalist and author John Gunther once quipped. And he’s right. Besides, there are easier ways to tell if you’re dealing with a true Texan.
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Spotting true Texans, whether native or adopted, is like studying creatures in the wild. You have to listen to their speech patterns, see what they eat, note how they interact with others, and observe various other habits and traits before you know you’ve encountered a real one.
For example, when Texans tell you they are “fixing” to do something, it means they are about to embark on a task or journey. They aren’t planning to repair anything … that is, unless they say they are
“fixing to work on the car” or something like that. “Fixings” are also a noun—all the good sides that complete a barbecue meal. Note: Texans would ac-
tually pronounce this “fixin’.” Texans have pockets full of unused “g”s.
Texans can look you in the eye and say, “Why, bless your heart!” And even if you can’t tell if they are being empathetic or snarky, they still manage to make you feel a little warm on the inside.
If you let a Texan set an ideal menu, it will likely include some of the key Texas food groups—chicken-fried steak, barbecue, Tex-Mex, and chips & salsa.
Furthermore, you can spot a Texan running around in shorts in the dead of winter. After all, the weather’s quite nice then.
1 If you can name something that cannot be deep-fried, subtract 5. Everything can be deep-fried.
2 If you know someone named Bud, add 5. If you are Bud, add 10. If your wife’s name is Sissy, add 15. If you know which movie features Bud and Sissy, add 20.
3 If your knee-jerk reaction is to clap four times after hearing “The stars at night are big and bright,” add 10. If you follow that by enthusiastically shouting “Deep in the heart of Texas!” add 10 more. If you think it’s just an invitation to grab your telescope or go stargazing, subtract 10.
4 If you’ve taken photos of friends, family, and/or yourself in bluebonnets, add 5. If you balk at the idea because there might be snakes, subtract 5. If you dare not for fear of damaging even one bluebonnet, add 10.
5 If you know who Ma Ferguson is, add 5. If you think she's that ol' lady who made moonshine out back, subtract 5.
6 If you offer a friendly wave to someone who let you into their lane on the road, add 10. It’s just good manners! If you don’t, subtract 20.
7 Someone asks, “How far is it from Houston to Austin?” If you answer “165 miles,” add 1 for being accurate. If you say “about three hours,” add 5 for thinking like a Texan.
8 If you have a signature chili recipe, add 5. If the recipe includes beans, subtract 10.
9 If you think a longneck refers to a Brachiosaurus, well aren’t you smart … but you still subtract 5. If you think it refers to a cold one, add 10.
10 If you’ve ever been to a Willie Nelson 4th of July picnic, add 10. If you’ve seen him at Floore’s, add 15.
11 If you know someone who’s eaten (and finished) the 72–ounce steak at The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, add 5. If YOU finished the steak, add 15. If you just ordered the salad, subtract 10.
12 If you arrange your fall around the football schedule, add 5. If you checked the football schedule before planning your wedding, add 10.
13 If you’ve ever had a nice, long conversation on the phone, add 5. If it started off as a wrong number, add 10.
14 If you wear a cowboy hat and boots, add 5. If you wear them while riding horseback, add 10.
15 If you can name all 50 states, add 5. If you get stumped after answering “Texas,” add 10.
16 If you can pronounce Mexia, Bexar, Gruene, Boerne, Study Butte, and Burnet without raising a true Texan’s eyebrow, add 10. If you insist on challenging the rogue “R”s that are heard in the names Pedernales, Refugio, or Kuykendal (Per-da-nales, Re-fury-oh, Kirk-en-doll), subtract 10.
17 If you’ve helped a customer at the hardware store, add 5. If you didn’t work there, add 10.
18 If you’ve taken a date to Whataburger, add 5. If you’ve had a Whataburger at the chain’s original location in Corpus Christi, add 10. If you pronounce it “What-a-burger,” instead of the Texan “water-burger,” subtract 5.
19 If you’ve ever enjoyed a snow day based on forecast alone, add 5.
20 If you’ve ever ridden a bull, add 5. If it wasn’t mechanical, add 15.
21 If you like your steak rare to medium, add 5. If you’re a vegetarian, well … to each his own, and we’ll try not to judge, so no deductions.
22 If you think boots are perfectly fine footwear for a formal event, add 5. If you have boots for different occasions (work, rodeo, dress, casual, hunting), add 10. If you plan to be buried in your boots, add 15.
23 If you fly the American flag, add 5. If you also fly the Texas flag, add 10.
24 If you’ve visited the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, add 5. If you’re there to see interred relatives, add 15. If you can trace your Texas roots back three generations, add 10. Six generations, add 15. If you got here as soon as you could, Welcome! add 5.
25 If you got married in Texas, add 10. If you stayed in Texas for your honeymoon, add 15.
26 If you can name four famous Texans, add 5. If you knew them back in the day, add 10. If you are related to them, add 15. If you are a famous Texan, add 20.
27 If stopping for kolaches is a road-trip tradition, add 5. If you pick up an extra dozen for home or the office, add 10.
29 If you know the origin of the word “Texas,” add 5. If you know what “Don’t Mess with Texas” means, add 10. If you think either are fightin’ words, subtract 5.
30 What follows the word “breakfast?” If you said “in bed,” subtract 5. That sounds nice, but it’s not exclusively a Texan indulgence. If you said “taco,” add 5.
31 If you’ve attempted to climb to the top of Guadalupe Peak, add 5. If you reached the top, add 15.
32 If you’ve been known to shed a tear while listening to George Jones, add 5. If you’ve mowed lawns with George Jones, add 15.
33 If you’ve seen George Strait perform, add 5. If you’ve seen him perform in San Marcos with the Ace in the Hole Band, add 10.
34 If you’ve driven 85 mph—legally—on Texas 130, the highest speed limit in the nation, add 5.
35 If you can sing Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” in English AND Spanish, add 5. If you know the singer’s given name, add 10.
36 If you’ve seen a football game at the Astrodome, add 10. If you think Bum Phillips is a messed-up screwdriver, subtract 5.
37 If you’ve been stung by a jellyfish on a Texas beach, add 5.
If you not only remember the Alamo, but you’ve also visited it, add 10. If you felt a deep reverence when you entered, add 5. If you asked directions to the Alamo basement while there, subtract 10.
39 If you’ve visited the Selena Memorial in Corpus Christi, add 5. If you just started singing one of her many hits in your head, add 10. If you’re still wondering “who’s Selena?” subtract 10.
40 If you’ve tubed a Texas river, add 5. If you’ve read Goodbye to a River, add 10.
41 If you’ve toured one of Texas’ beautiful caverns, add 5. If you did it without a flashlight, add 10. If you emerged without a panic attack, add 15.
42 If you’ve driven from border to border, add 10. If you did it without stopping, subtract 5. If you spent at least a week checking out cool towns along the way, add 15.
43 If you’ve ridden a roller coaster at a Texas amusement park, add 5. If you’ve ridden Texas’ biggest coasters, add 10. If you did it within 20 minutes of eating a corn dog and funnel cake, add 15.
44 If you drive a pickup truck, add 5. If your truck has a name, add 10.
45 If you’ve worn shorts on Christmas day, add 5. If you got a tan on Christmas, add 10.
46 If you know who made the town of Turkey famous, add 5. If you think we’re talking about a bird, subtract 5.
47 If you’ve taken a selfie with Paisano Pete in Fort Stockton or some other kitschy Texas landmark, add 5.
48 If, when someone is perplexed by your loyalty to the Lone Star State, you steal a line from Lyle Lovett and say, “That’s right, you’re not from Texas,” add 5.
49 If you’ve waited in line for tried-and-true barbecue, add 5. If you made a lifelong friend in that line, add 10. If you’ve perfected your own barbecue, add 15.
50 If you subscribe to Texas Highways magazine, add 5. For every year you’ve subscribed, add 1. For every gift subscription you have given, add 1. If you currently live outside of Texas, but still subscribe to Texas Highways, add 5.