Surviving a day in British English

Prepare to be gobsmacked

Surviving a day in British English

Think your English is pretty decent? Your first day in the UK is certainly going to put you to test, so let's see if you can survive a day in British English by seeing how many of these expressions you get right (translations at the end). Good luck!

Full English

Let’s imagine the following: You choose a cosy looking café to have your most important meal of the day, before going to your first English language class  in Blighty.

On the menu you see ‘Full English’. Ah great!, you think, I know what that is. It comes with beans on toast, I believe. Feeling completely within your comfort zone, you order in a tone of confidence. But when the waiter replies with, “Do you want your fry up with bacon and bangers or with black pudding, luv?”, you end up blushing and mumbling “no thanks, I actually wanted a savory breakfast…”

The waiter just laughs, shakes his head and shortly returns with your Full Monty and a cuppa. “Welcome to the UK!”

Grab your brolly

To continue with the stereotypes, let’s assume that when you are leaving the café, it starts raining cats and dogs. But as a well prepared newcomer, you cleverly armed yourself with a brolly and your new wellies.

After queuing at the bus stop (it’s a thing, look it up ) and then causing a little chaos on the bus, just because you simply did not understand what the driver wanted from you when asking for two quid, you finally arrive to class.

Fortunately, things then begin to run a little more smoothly, since the actual English class is easier to comprehend than the people you interacted with this morning. Funnily enough though, the teacher chose to give a little introduction by telling you about the different ways of speaking across the UK.

Turns out, pronunciation can vary a lot, not only depending on where people are from but also on the situation and the people they are speaking with . Apparently a lot of people even have a phone accent. Totally normal, innit?

Well, maybe watching this video  in class might have taught you what a Scouse or a Brummie is, but nevertheless leaves you totally baffled when it comes to understanding those accents. Blimey, as if things were not complicated enough…

In the pub

Ahh the pub; the Britons favorite place to be after a long day at work (or any day, really). A place to unwind and go to for beers and banter with your mates.

So you mustered up the courage to join two of your classmates (oi, different kind of mate!) and their group of British flatmates (seems like in the UK everybody is friends with each other) to go for a pint or two. Fancy another round?

After a fair amount of Boddingtons, the conversation becomes total codswallop to you: Why is your new friend talking about being on a car bonnet? And what has this uncle Bob to do with anything?

Another thing that leaves you gutted might be that you don’t get the good and most likely dirty jokes. Not only is the British humor still a mystery to you, but the indirect and complicated way of telling these jokes makes it hard for you to follow up. Even the raciest and laddiest banter sounds utterly proper and harmless to you. Oh fiddlesticks, you didn’t get this one either!

One of the most popular and successful English exports, the comedy group Monty Python, made a sketch  depicting exactly that linguistic dance which Brits seemingly find so amusing; which makes them excellent for a British humor crash course.

Cheerio gov’na!

We hope you could take a few helpful bits and bobs from this fictional day in the life with the Brits. Check in the list below, how many words and expression you decoded correctly!

But probably the best piece of advice we can give you is this: do yourself a favour and don’t overdo it with wanting to sound British. Showing off with a thick, fake Cockney accent and the use of bloody will only make them take the mickey out of you!

How many did you get right?

Gobsmacked - Utterly astonished

Blighty - Britain

Fry up/Full Monty - Full English Breakfast

Bangers - A type of sausage

Black Pudding - A type of blood sausage

Cuppa - A cup of tea

Raining cats and dogs - Raining heavily

Brolly - umbrella

Wellies - Waterproof boots

Quid - Pound Sterling

Innit - Isn’t it. Very informal.

Scouse - name for the Liverpool accent

Brummie - name for the accent or person from Birmingham

Blimey - Used to express surprise, excitement, or alarm. You probably know it from reading the Harry Potter books.

Banter - The playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks.

Mate - Friend

Boddingtons - A type of beer

Codswallop - Nonsense

On it like a car bonnet - Having a situation under control, or to be enthusiastic about something.

Bob’s your uncle - similar to the French ‘et voila’.

Gutted - Very disappointed or upset

Lad - A young man, but in slang referring to someone who engages in all sorts of stereotypical “manly” behaviour (lad culture)

Fiddlesticks - Exclamation that you use in front of your auntie when you don’t wanna say the f-word

Cheerio gov’na - This is more of a stereotypical phrase that Americans enjoy hearing Brits say. Nobody actually says, so do so at the risk of looking silly.

Bits and bobs - A random assortment of things.

Bloody - An adjective used to express anger, annoyance, or shock, or for emphasis

To Take the Mickey out of someone - To make fun of someone.

Further reading

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