Vibrant capital of the United Kingdom, London is one of the most popular destinations in the world. It is the town « par excellence » for a language course or to visit as a tourist.
Are you planning a trip to London ? If so, you may want to learn more about typical British expressions. The way people express themselves in London, Sydney, Dublin and New York, isn’t always the same. This is due to the different accents of course but it is sometimes because they use very different words. Here are 15 English expressions to help you get ready for your trip to London!
What is Slang ?
This informal language can not be learnt in books, but you can hear it everywhere in the streets, in the underground, in bars and cafés. Slang includes about a hundred words and expressions depending on the region or even the social group using it. It would be useless to try to remember such a large amount of words but knowing the most usual and common expressions will be enough to facilitate your exchanges with people and to create a feeling of belonging. To plan your stay in London, learn some of these must-know expressions to fit right in The Old Smoke - the nickname of Britain’s Capital.
10 Must-know English Expressions in London
1. "Not my cup of tea" (or "not my cuppa tea"), this expression is used to talk about something you don’t like.
2. "To get the hang of something" (yes, it’s getting harder already), it’s learning to do something. And we hope you’ll "get the hang of this list"
3. "To put a spanner in the works" (or "throw a spanner in the works"), it’s to prevent an activity from being successful.
4. "Bob’s your uncle", a funny expression to say "that’s it!" or "you’ve done it!" like a real Londoner
5. "To have something under one’s belt" means to have acquired a skill, to master the art of something. So, get the hang of this list to have London slang under your belt. Bob’s your uncle!
6. "To have a butcher’s" is not referring to the person selling meat but it’s an original English way to say "have/take a look". I have new shoes : have a butcher’s!
7. "Cobblers!" (to keep on the jobs subject) - a cobbler is the person that repairs shoes. An unexpected way of saying "Nonsense!" or "It’s absurd". There’s also the variation "a load of old cobblers" and "what a load of cobblers".
8. "To lose the plot", it’s to lose your mind, to go crazy. And hopefully you didn’t lose the plot reading this list of English expressions. Our goal is only to make your stay in London as easy as possible!
9. "Donkey’s years", is a typical expression of London and the UK to say "for a long time", "for ages". I haven’t heard this expression for donkey’s years!
10. "Mind the gap" you're not likely to use it, but you'll be hearing it a lot if you take the underground. It's the announcement that punctuates every stop when the doors open to indicate the space between the train and the platform. Incidentally, Londoners call their underground The Tube, which speaks for itself. Avoid the word subway, It's American English, more suited to New York or Chicago (nicknamed Chicago ‘L'). It's easy, innit? Oh yes, innit is the universal way to say "isn't it?", as it can be used for any question, regardless of the verb.
5 English expressions to greet Londoners
To top it all off, here are 5 English expressions you need to know to say hello and goodbye (but in a different way). They're not all typically English. They can be heard elsewhere in the UK, and even as far away as the USA. But they're useful to remember so you can greet people more naturally, or at least understand what they're saying.
1. "How’s it going?" , that simply means "how are you?" : an informal greeting that doesn't require any response. Even though it's sometimes hard to resist the "fine, thank you, and you?"
2. "You alright?" (or "Alright mate?") an alternative to the preceding English expression - which can be used in response to an informal greeting.
3. "See ya" ( or "Catch ya later") implying see you later, to say "see you soon".
4. "Take care" when you leave someone. we're actually hearing more and more of the equivalent in other languages influenced by English.
5. "Have a good one" is a more original way of saying "Have a good day"
Copying the French "à tout à l'heure", we also use "toodeloo" to say goodbye in English. This expression is a little dated and less and less used, except when you want to try a little British humor. As a bonus, for a change from the traditional thank you or thanks, you can express your gratitude with "cheers", a word widely used in London and elsewhere in England.
Well... Bob's your uncle! Thanks to these typical expressions of London and the UK, you're ready to go. Don't be afraid to use them! Londoners always appreciate foreign visitors who make an effort to speak their language. Make the most of your trip to discover everything this fascinating capital has to offer, from iconic sites to lively neighborhoods and gastronomy. Faites confiance à Trust Influent to organize a language immersion program in London that you will never forget, wether you are an adults or a teenager
Have a great time in London!