Planning to visit the UK at some point? Perhaps even move there to live?
Well, if you want to understand people, and make yourself understood, stop watching Downton Abbey because we don’t speak like that anymore (if we ever did!).
Here are 10 essential bits of real British English that you need to know!
If someone describes you as being fit in the UK, there’s a good chance they don’t mean that you go to the gym a lot.
His sister’s really fit
Su hermana es un pibonazo.
He’s a fit bloke.
Es un tío bueno.
The double meaning means you often hear conversations like the one below in which fit is used with the meaning of en forma, and fit fit, in contrast, means sexually attractive.
The new girl in the accounts department is fit.
Fit? or y’know, fit fit?
Well, both to be honest, mate! But I meant fit fit!
2. (IT) BEATS ME!
The meaning and use are simple, but note that, as often happens in real colloquial English, the subject – it – is often omitted.
How did he get such a fit girlfriend?
Cómo ha conseguido un pibón así?
How does she put up with him?
¿Cómo lo aguanta?
Chuck, like it’s less informal synonym, means throw, or tirar. I
Chuck it away!
¡Tiralo a la basura!
I went through my things and chucked (out/away) what I don’t need anymore.
Revisé mis cosas y tiré todo lo que ya no necesitaba
Chuck‘s most common use, though, is probably when you want someone to pass you something.
Can you chuck me that book?
¿Me pases ese libro?
Sadly, most of us will be chucked by someone at some point in our lives.
She’s chucked him.
Le ha dejado.
Nicking something is all about stealing.
Who’s nicked my book?
¿Quien ha mangado mi libro?
However, it’s most common use is to mean lend.
Can I nick your pen a minute?
¿Me dejes tu boli un momento?
Other uses of nick in real British English are about the consequences of stealing.
[police officer] You’re nicked!
[policía] ¡Te hemos trincado!
He spent 3 years in the nick.
Pasé 3 años enchironado.
If something is a doddle, it’s easy (or easy-peasy!)
The exam was a doddle!
El examen estaba chupao.
Driving is a doddle once you get used to it.
Conducir es super fácil una vez que te acostumbras.
Everyone and his grandmother uses the word chockablock. It just sounds great. In the UK we have a tendency to shorten it to chocka.
The town centre’s chockablock on Saturdays.
Los sábados el centro está petado.
The place was absolutely chocka with tourists.
El sitio estaba a tope de turistas.
Gutted is that horrible feeling of emptiness you’d get if your insides (tripas) were removed.
He was gutted when he failed.
Estaba muy decepcionado cuando suspendió.
She was gutted when he left.
Estaba destrozada cuando él se piró.
8. OUT OF ORDER
You might see a sign saying out of order on a vending machine, or public toilet, meaning it’s not working, but its more slangy meaning is inacceptable.
You’re out of order! Apologise now!
¡Te has pasado! ¡Pide disculpas ahora mismo!
What he said was bang out of order.
Lo que dijo fue totalmente inaceptable.
American teenagers make out, British teens pull or get off with someone. Linguistically, pull is more flexible.
She pulled this guy on holiday.
She got off with this guy on holiday.
Ligó con un tío estas vacaciones.
He hasn’t pulled in months.
No se ha comido un rosco en meses.
Friday night, we go out on the pull.
Los viernes, salimos de ligoteo.
So many words to translate chuffed – contento, satisfecho, encantado, entusiasmado, ilusionado…See – English can make life easier!
Her parents are well chuffed.
Sus padres están super contentos.
He’s got the job, so he’s chuffed to bits.
Le han ofrecido el trabajo, así que está super ilusionado.
Have you spent time in the UK? Did you pick up any fun or interesting bits of real British English?