Practical English for your holiday/weekend in Britain!

Practical English

Expresiones prácticas para tu viaje en el Reino Unido.

¡Disfruta del puente de Mayo hablando con la gente local!

Before a weekend trip to London, our students often ask me for useful expressions that they can use to practice their English with the locals. Here are some words and phrases to give you inside knowledge of English slang when visiting the city.


If you’ve been to London before, then you may have been a little taken aback when you realised that the textbook language we learn formally in an English-language course, can be very different from the everyday, informal phrases Londoners use. Don´t be put off! Here´s your chance to pick up expressions and speak like a native! have probably heard the crazy language Londoners use on a daily basis. Most don’t even know they’re using it!

After reading this post you will stand a chance of understanding London’s ‘secret language’.


If you were to jump into black cab in London, you’d probably to be greeted with :

  • You Alright?
  • Alright mate?
  • How´s it going?
  • You sweet?

Of course, if you´re worried to use these expressions in the wrong context, just stick to ‘hello’ , ‘hi’ , ‘hey’, ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ and ‘good evening’.

Saying Goodbye

The goodbyes are not always quite so easy to understand, and if you don’t catch these it could leave you in an awkward situation at the end of a conversation. Here are a few examples:

  • Take care (look after yourself)
  • See ya (see you later)
  • Cheerio
  • Catch ya later (see you later/until next time)
  • Take it easy (look after yourself)
  • Have a good one (be safe/good luck)
  • Ta ta

You are likely to come across these goodbyes while in London, so keep them in mind and maybe you could use them… Londoners will be impressed if you try out their lingo!

General Slang

There are so many words and sayings that literally mean one thing but are used to describe something else.  This is confusing. This slang can be tricky to learn and, at times, discouraging. But don´t lose heart, as it´s all part of your language-learning journey.  Sometimes it takes a while to get the hang of it

Here’s a list of slang phrases and words to prepare you for your trip to the capital and to give you the upper hand:

  • Throw a spanner in the works – Causing problems to prevent something from happening/making something difficult
  • Donkey’s years – A very long time
  • To have a butchers – Take a look at something/someone
  • Minted – Rich/a lot of money
  • Fit – Good looking, attractive
  • What a load of cobblers – What a load of nonsense
  • Get stuffed – No chance, go away
  • Not my cuppa tea – Not to my liking
  • Knees up – Have a good time
  • Blinding – Fantastic, amazing
  • Don’t get shirty with me! – Don’t be disrespectful/ill-mannered towards me

Sometimes it´s not understanding the words that´s the main difficulty, but distinguishing between the various regional accents! A Liverpudlian ( a person from Liverpool) may not understand the cockney accent of an Eastender( a person from East London) 

Watch this fun video to try and distinguish between the various accents:

 A tour of 17 accents from the British Isles

Meanings of the expressions in bold:

On reading over this article, I realised I used slang without even realising it! This is clearly confusing for non-native speakers…. Here are the ‘translations’ for the phrases highlighted in bold.

To stand a chance – to have a good chance of doing something
To get the hang of something – to become proficient in/learn how to do something
To be caught off guard – when something happens that you weren’t expecting
To gain the upper hand – to get control over someone or something

¡Ven a Conocernos y Mejora tu Inglés ya!

Somos un centro internacional y acreditado del British Council con 20 años de experiencia, especializado en la enseñanza de idiomas, y la preparación de exámenes oficiales Cambridge.  Dirige su oferta a las personas interesadas en aprender, mejorar y reforzar sus conocimientos de un idioma.

En The English Group, nos comprometemos a garantizar una calidad suprema- clases reducidas e impartidas por profesores nativos, que cuentan con experiencia en la enseñanza de la lengua inglesa.

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