What is British English Slang?
Do you ever watch TV or listen to native English speakers having a conversation and hear a word or phrase used in a strange way? For example, you could hear someone say, “Can you pay for lunch today? I haven’t been paid yet and I’m really short on dough”. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have enough dough to make bread! ‘Dough’ used in this way is a slang expression meaning ‘money’. This is known as British English Slang.
British English Slang is a type of informal language which is mainly spoken and not written. It can be quite difficult for English language students to learn slang as different places and countries use different idioms and expressions. It is also difficult to know when and where to use these expressions. My advice is to learn slang so when you hear it, you can understand it – when you feel more comfortable with the expressions, you can then start using them yourself. It is also good to remember that slang is usually spoken and not written!
Below are a few common examples of British English slang expressions:
– On the box: on tv
“Do you know what’s on the box tonight? I really want to watch something funny.”
– I’m broke: I don’t have any money
I had to pay for so many things this month – I’m so broke now!”
– I’m easy: I don’t mind or I have no preference
“Which restaurant should we go to tonight?”, “You can choose, I’m really easy.”
– Tie the knot: get married
“I’m so excited! John and Sue are tying the knot tomorrow!”
– I’m knackered: really tired, exhausted
“I had a really hard day at work, then I went to play tennis with Dave and we went to the pub afterwards. I’m really knackered now!”
– I’ll give you a bell: I’ll phone you
“I don’t know which cinema we’re going to tonight. I’ll ask Lucy and I’ll give you a bell later.”
– Blown away by: very impressed by
“The opera was amazing! I was completely blown away by it!”
– I’m gutted: I’m upset, angry or sad about something that has happened to me
“I really thought I would get the promotion but they gave it to Sam. I’m so gutted.”
– Cuppa: a hot drink (usually tea or coffee)
“Fancy coming to mine for a cuppa this afternoon?”
– A kip/a nap: a quick sleep
“I’m knackered. I need to have a kip before we go to the party tonight.”
These are just a few of the most common slang expressions that we use in England. If you hear a word or phrase being used in a funny way on ‘the box’, write it down and look up the meaning later or, if you are studying in an English language school, ask your English teacher. If someone uses an expression or idiom when they are talking to you, don’t be afraid to ask for the meaning – most English people don’t actually realise they are using slang as it is so common these days!
Have fun with English
British English slang quiz
1. I’m just going to the loo.
I’m just going to the:
2. I’m sorry but I don’t get it.
I’m sorry but I don’t:
b. want to
c. believe you
3. The play was a hit.
The play was a:
b. great success
4. This table is really wonky.
This table is really:
5. The crossword puzzle was a doddle.
The crossword puzzle was:
a. really easy
b. really difficult
c. really interesting
Last week’s answers
English pronunciation. Click on the links below to see the definitions and hear the UK and US pronunciations.