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Do you speak 'British' English? Ten words you need to know!

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I’m sure you know there are many types of English. Each English speaking country has its own unique vocabulary, grammar structure and pronunciation.

Today we take a look at ten words which are used in natural British English, but are not really used in American English. All of these words are very common and are used in casual spoken-English. 


(noun) synonym: man.

We use bloke to describe a man whose name is either not known or not important. It implies that the man is ordinary:

‘I heard a bloke on the train say that tomorrow's trains will be delayed.’


(noun) synonym: cigarette.

In British English a cigarette is known as a fag, but in American English fag is a slang word for a 'homosexual'! So be careful where you use it!

‘Tom went outside for a fag. I think he smokes too much!’


(verb) to want to do or have something/ to be sexually attracted to someone.

To want to do something: ‘Do you fancy going to the cinema on Friday?’

To be sexually attracted to someone: ‘I fancy the new guy in my office. I think he’s hot!’


(verb/noun) synonym: to vacuum/vacuum cleaner.

Hoover is a company that makes vacuum cleaners. The company is so well known that the brand name is often used instead of vacuum cleaner.

‘I need to buy a new hoover. Mine is broken.’

‘The carpet is dirty. When was the last time you hoovered?’


(noun) synonym: friend

Widely used in British and Australian English. It simply means ‘friend’:

‘We’ve been mates since we met in high school.’


(noun) synonym: beer

A pint is 568ml using the Imperial system. In British bars and pubs pints of beer (or half-pints) are served. We use  pint to mean a beer in a pub.

‘Do you want to go for a pint after work?’


(noun) synonym: pound (£).

Just as Americans use the slang word 'buck' for a dollar ($), British people use quid to mean a British pound (£).

 ‘Forty quid for a ticket to the game? That’s too much!’


(verb) synonym: to think, to suppose.

Reckon is very widely used in British English. It has the same meaning as ‘to think’. 

‘I reckon it will rain tomorrow.’


(noun/verb) synonym: Noun= garbage, trash,waste/ low quality,untrue. Verb= criticise

Rubbish can be used in a few ways. It can be used to describe garbage/trash:

‘Throw the empty coke can into the rubbish.’

‘After the festival was over the field was covered with people’s rubbish.’

It can be used to describe something you think is not good:

‘I don’t like Green Day. I think their music is rubbish.’

It can be used to say that something is not true or a lie.

‘Did you read that article in the newspaper? What a load of rubbish! I don’t believe it.’

It can be used as a verb meaning ‘to criticise’:

‘I don’t want to rubbish your plan, but I don’t think it will work.’


(adjective) synonym: cool, great, excellent.

A young persons word meaning 'great' or 'cool'. Wicked also has the formal (old-fashioned) meaning of 'bad' or 'evil'. These days it has a positive meaning. Remember, it’s very casual and mostly used by young people:

 ‘Look at that jacket. It’s wicked! I’m going to buy it.’

Now choose the correct words to complete the sentences:

Personality Adjectives

  • Could you lend me a couple of ____? I want to buy a magazine.

  • If you ___ her, you should ask her out on a date.

  • I watched Batman again last night. It's ___ ! Best film ever!

  • I don't remember how many ___ I drank last night.

  • Take your shoes off. I just ___.

  • I ___ my boss will give me the day off if I offer to work late tonight.

  • I can't believe he put his ___ out on the carpet! It made a hole.

  • You would rather go out with your ___ than stay at home with me!

  • I've never seen that ___ before. Do you know him?

  • Don't go to that new Italian restaurant. I heard the food is ___.