British English is very interesting, but can be difficult for English language learners. A lot of things that we say are not found in textbooks so they can be hard to learn. Learning British slang and idioms are essential if you want to spend time in the UK or you like British TV shows, movies, books or songs. Don’t worry I’m here to help you.

The most common british english words

Alright

This is a very common greeting in the UK that you will hear everyday.

It is basically the same as saying “how are you?” and it is pretty common all over the UK. The answer to this question is usually “alright” which is pretty convenient. You will also hear people say “not bad” a lot as that is the default emotion in the UK.

This word can also mean “OK” like it does in American English. It has both meanings in the UK, but the greeting is the most common use.

Cheers

Now this is not just the word we say before we make a toast and click the glasses together in the pub. We do use it in that case but in the UK it has another meaning. We usually use this word as a way to say thank you. So if someone does something nice for you, just say “cheers” and they will know that you are grateful. Like this:

“Cheers for helping me with my homework last week mate.”

We also use this quite a lot when we are saying goodbye to someone just before we leave. I guess we are saying thanks for your time or something but you will hear people say

“nice one mate. Cheers. Catch you later.”

innit

This one is really common. It is basically a shortened version of the tag question “isn’t it?” and we put it at the end of a question when we think the listener will agree with what we are saying. This version got really popular like 10 years ago and now is a bit of a meme, but you will still hear it quite a lot.

You can also use it to react to someone else’s news.

“Mate, it’s hot today”

“innit!”

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Proper

I use this one all the time and it usually confuses my students. The truth is that is is really easy to understand! We use this word all the time in the UK and when a British person says proper, they basically mean “very” or “loads” and we use it to emphasise something.

  • It’s proper expensive in there.
  • I am proper knackered today.
  • I proper love your new hat! Where did you get it?

Bloody

Another word that we use a lot in the UK that means very is “bloody” Just like proper we use this to emphasise something that we are saying.

One expression that people think British people say all the time is “bloody hell” and we use this to express, anger, annoyance or shock. Like this:

  • Bloody hell! I can’t find my keys, again.
  • Bloody hell! I have to work this weekend.
  • Bloody hell, what was that noise?

I would say that we don’t say this so much, but it is a bit of a stereotype that British people say this a lot. Either way, you know what it means now.

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