The Queen’s English (also known as Received Pronunciation or ‘posh’) is a well-known English accent spoken by the royal family and other members of the upper classes in the UK. It is an accent which fascinates many non-native speakers and many English language students try to speak with a posh accent. Some native people also try to copy the accent to make themselves seem more ‘posh’ (upper class and wealthy).
There are a large number of English accents which differ not just between different countries (e.g. Britain, America, Australia) but also within countries. Have you ever been to different places in the UK? You will notice that the accents are very different depending on which part of the country you are in, and if you are used to a particular English accent, you may find it difficult to understand when people speak (even native speakers often have difficulty!!).
How to speak with a posh accent
- Listen and copy
Find videos of The Queen and other people speaking in a posh accent and try to copy them. Pay close attention to how certain words are pronounced and how they form their sentences. Do this with a friend so they can check if you sound the same as the person in the video or record yourself and play it back to compare the accents.
- Pronunciation and enunciation
Pronunciation is the way you say words and enunciation is how clearly you say them. To speak like The Queen, you need to make sure you pronounce words correctly AND you enunciate everything you say (speak very very clearly and with confidence).
If you want to speak with a posh accent, you will probably need to change the way you pronounce certain words and letters. For example the ‘r’, ‘u’ and ‘t’ sounds are pronounced differently. Visit this website for a detailed lesson: Speak in a British Accent
A simple trick for Received Pronunciation is that many words are pronounced as they are written (e.g. when people say the word ‘February’ they usually pronounce it ‘feb-you-ry’ or ‘feb-you-air-ree’ but if you want to speak with a posh accent, you should pronounce it ‘feb-rue-air-ree’). You should also try to make your vowel sounds longer (e.g. instead of pronouncing ‘lovely’ as ‘luv-ly’, posh people pronounce it ‘laahh-v-ly’).
- Learn posh vocabulary
If you want to speak like The Queen, you will probably need to start using different vocabulary. For example, you should start using ‘the royal one’ to replace ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘you’ and you should replace ‘common’ words with more ‘elegant’ ones. To accept a dinner invitation, instead of saying “Yes, let’s go for dinner”, you could say “Indeed, one would be delighted to join one for dinner”.
- Practise practise practise
When you have mastered all these new ways to speak, it is important that you practise as much as possible. The more you practise, the easier it will become and the more natural you will sound. Why not arrange a ‘talk like The Queen’ evening at your house where everyone has to speak with a posh accent all night?
If you want to learn how to speak with a British accent, book a course at Bloomsbury International, an English school in central London. You probably won’t learn The Queen’s English but the teachers will be able to help you if this is the accent you want to use!
Have fun with English
Find out the meaning of these posh words and when people might use them:
Last week’s answers
|a mate or pal||informal way to say ‘friend’|
|an acquaintance||a person that you have met but don’t know well|
|a penfriend||a person you write letters to but you have never met|
|a colleague||a person you work with|
|to hang out||to spend time with your friends not doing anything in particular|
|to crash at||to stay at a person’s house|
|to be attached at the hip||two people are always together|
|to fall out||to argue with someone and stop being friends with them|