While some English as a Foreign Language students might think that learning English slang is a waste of time as it is terribly informal, Unique encourages its' English language instructors to teach slang expressions and words as frequently as they are able. Slang plays an important part in oral communication and some slang has now become an accepted part of the vernacular. We use the word "tube" rather than "underground" for example, and "copper" or "cop" is more likely to be used than policeman.
In this post, I will take a look at some common words and expressions that we count as slang, or colloquial phrases. They are natural English and can be used in spoken speech with friends and colleagues at your level.
As an aside, Cockney Rhyming Slang is very well known around the world and it is an interesting part of the English language, but the majority of expressions are not used. Some that are are just considered to be common slang and we have chosen a few to be mentioned here:-
Your chin is below your mouth and a dog wags (or moves) its' tail. Urgo, chin wag is to talk. Easy, huh?
LOO/LITTLE BOY'S ROOM/SPEND A PENNY/LAV
Technically, only the first one is slang but we mentioned the others for the sake of completeness. British people hate to say the word toilet, as it is too visual. Instead, we use a variety of slang words or idioms depending on who we are with, our social class and how speedily we need to use the loo!!!
This could perhaps be classed as upper class slang and my manager seems to be fond of using it. It means that everything is going well: "Everything is progressing tickety-boo."
This is old Cockney rhyming slang that has entered the British English lexicon, and you are just as likely to hear it in the north of England as you are in east London. It comes from that great British food, the pork pie, hence porkies. "Everybody is telling porkie(s) pies" - lies.
The last one is not used so much now, but they all mean the same - attractive. Dishy is more likely to be used for a handsome gent.
You might hear this word used in a lot of Guy Ritchie cockney gangster films, although we don't think it actually rhymes with anything. It means "fool" - as in "Steve was a right mug for buying that motor (car).
This is slang that has come from the United States, and you will often hear it used by teenagers. It means the opposite of what it was originally intended to mean - as in "really good". "That car is really sick."
There are thousands more slang words and expressions that Britons use every day when speaking and which you might hear on TV. We can't go through all of them here, but ask your Unique English Trainer to talk with you further about slang words in the UK.
Unique's School of English in London runs regular one-to-one courses for learners. Our e-mail address is [email protected] and you can also call us on 020 3566 0145 or fill in the form on this page.