London is one of the most impressive cities in the world with so much history, culture, museums, green parks, towering futuristic buildings and some of the best shopping, nightlife and restaurants.

One will never find themselves at a loose end in London, there are endless entertaining things to do and it is the place where you can have the time of your life. London is a city of extremes and life can never be boring here.
 

Transport
 
 London's transport system is fantastic; you can get from one side of the city to the other easily by catching a tube, train, bus, tram or bicycle. Grab yourself an Oyster card that you can top up and use for the buses, trains and tubes. 


The tube is the fastest mode of transport and there are many different lines that reach different parts of the city, it is an experience in itself riding on the underground. The overground train is more limited with stations but goes to the main stops in the city such as Victoria and Waterloo, plus you can enjoy the views of London as you travel. 

Riding the bus is also another great way of seeing the city, buses go all over the city and it is a piece of cake to plan your journey with a map. You will also notice the 'Boris Bikes' in lots of places across town, these can be rented so you can paint the town red and enjoy the freedom of a bicycle in London, then just drop the bike at any of the bike stations.

Attractions

 
 The list of things to do in London is endless, visit many museums for free such as the British Museum, the National History Museum or the Tate Modern. There are also 4 world heritage sites to feast your eyes on and tens of historic buildings and places to see such as the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Kew Gardens, St Pauls Cathedral, The Palace of Westminster and much more. Mixed in with all the history is also a lot of

contemporary architecture such as The Shard which is the tallest building in Europe, The London Eye, The Millennium Bridge and The Gherkin. If you want to have a whale of a time, visit Madame Tussauds, London Zoo or The London Dungeons. For those that live in the fast lane there is lots of things to fill your days with and endless parties at night. If you prefer to take it easy, visit one of the many parks in the city and go to the theatre or cultural exhibitions.
 
Food & Drink
 
 London has some delicious foods and you will be in your element as there is nothing you can't find here. Find lots of fish n chip shops and many pubs serving home cooked meals like Sunday Roasts, pie n mash, bangers n mash, full English breakfasts and toad in the hole. In Brick Lane you can find amazing curry or visit the markets such as Broadway or Spitalfields to try

some mouth watering fresh produce. Find amazing bars and restaurants on every corner. If you are a social butterfly go out and try the nightlife in full swing, there is the chance to have a ball, meet some great people and let your hair down. Take it easy in chilled out pubs or visit bars and clubs with bells on to dance the night away. If you are footloose and fancy free in London, life cannot be better.

Weather

 The city is pretty famous for its random weather patterns. One minute the sun is shining and the next it is pouring with rain. In general the weather is pleasant, with spring and autumn bringing the best climates. Winter can bring extreme cold and lots of rain so be prepared with enough clothes and an umbrella.


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 There are many different types of accommodation across the UK and where you choose to stay will depend on your budget, preferences and the area you are visiting. From posh hotels with feather duvets and Jacuzzis in the bathroom to B&Bs and cottages in the countryside, the UK has something to suit everyone. 

If you want a bit of luxury and are willing to splash out (spend money), choose a deluxe hotel with all the amenities you need. If you are going to be out all day and just want a roof over your head and somewhere to hit the hay (sleep), pick somewhere a bit more basic. 

Hotels

 There are hotels across the UK in all shapes and sizes from historical buildings in the city centre to charming country houses with large, green grounds. Depending on price and location, hotels generally offer lots of facilities and services. Rooms will include a bathroom, telly, cupboards, fridge and other features that are on the house. Beds are normally very comfortable where you can sleep like a log. Some of the posher hotels may also include a spa and swimming pool where you can chillax (relax!) and take time to smell the roses. 

B&Bs

Bed and Breakfast accommodation is mostly cheaper than hotels, very popular and ten a penny around the UK. The price includes the room and brekkie (breakfast) in the morning before you go out. There is normally a few hours for breakfast so you don't have to wake up at the crack of dawn. These
establishments are normally family-run and they will encourage you to make yourself at home with a cuppa and a chin-wag (chat). This is a great way to really experience the British way of life and try some home cooked meals too such as pie and gravy, Sunday roast or toad in the hole. Some rooms will have a private loo, others will be sharing depending on the place. 

Hostels 

If you are skint (have no money) and looking for somewhere as cheap as chips, a hostel or campus accommodation is the best option. Rooms and bogs will be shared but facilities are clean and sound as a pound, plus it provides a good chance to meet other people. 

Self-Catering

For more independence, rent a self-catering property. In the countryside it can be a cottage or bungalow, in the city it will be a flat or apartment. This gives you more freedom to come and go as you please and even cook your own meals that will go down a treat (be good) . 

Caravans & Camping


Even the Brits love to go on camping or caravan holidays and there are lots of sites with places to rent. Have some fun being a happy camper and enjoy the nature in the British countryside. 

If you would like to talk about anything mentioned in this article or for 1-1 Skype Lessons visit http://www.british-english-teacher.com 

Pubs are an important part of English life, with over half of the population going to the pub on a regular basis. A pub is a public house, a meeting point for people to let their hair down and relax. In many places across the UK, especially villages, local pubs are the heart of the community. Not only to drink booze (alcohol), pubs are where you can meet new people and old mates (friends) talk, gossip, catch up and send some quality time.

Drinks and Food

 The most popular drink at the pub is a pint of draught ale, but pubs serve much more than just beer. There is always a range of wines and spirits as well as cider, bitter, alcopops and shandy. Along with the wide range of adult beverages, there are also lots of non-alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. A number of pubs also serve food which is normally very delicious; pub grub! (pub food) is well-known in the UK as yummy home-tasting food such as bangers and mash, fish and chips and toad in the hole. All pubs serve nuts and crisps to go nicely with your bevvy (beverage).

Ordering

Most pubs do not have table service and if you go in and sit down waiting for someone to take your order, you will be waiting a long time so go straight up to the counter. If you want to order a beer or cider, specify if you want a pint or half, and which brand you want e.g. Heineken. There will be a large choice of beers, ales and ciders from brand names to authentic locally produced draughts. Even if you order food, it is generally normal to pay for everything upfront,
though some can provide a bill at the end. Always remember to say please and Cheers! (thank you!)

Entertainment
 Most pubs have some sort of entertainment, from dart boards to card games, fruit machines and billiard tables. Sports games are often shown and people can meet to watch the footie (football) whilst having a cold brew. Some pubs also have live singers on one or two nights a week, karaoke and even pub quizzes which are a lot of fun. 

Decor
 Many pubs in England are historic places that have been there for many years and some still have the same traditional features from the Victorian or Tudor times. This can be dark wood furniture and frosted windows to keep out prying eyes, but there are also many modern, brighter pubs that even have beer gardens where you can smoke a ciggie (cigarette) and enjoy the rare warm weather. They may be known as taverns, inns or names such as "The King's Head". 

Customers
 Pubs are normally quiet during the week days, with workers popping in (visiting) for a quick brew after work to let off some steam and a few groups of  friends with only the regulars staying on later at their local for a few, but on
weekends they can get very busy with both young and old folks. Pub crawls (drinking in many pubs) are popular in some towns where a group of people will have a couple of drinks at a number of different pubs until they are literally crawling home. 

If you would like to talk about anything mentioned in this article or for 1-1 Skype Lessons visit http://www.british-english-teacher.com



Supermarket shopping in the UK can be a blast (fun experience). For most people it is a daily, weekly or even monthly routine task, but for people that are not used to shopping in the UK, it can be exciting and eye opening. You will find almost every food product you can imagine from all over the world in most supermarkets, as well as electronics, home ware, clothes and many other items. 

Deals and Discounts

 
 As we have an abundance (a lot of) of supermarkets around the UK, they all provide deals and discounts in different ways which is excellent for us shoppers. To get the best value for your money, look out for deals like 2 for 1, 3 for 2, or Buy One Get One Free. There is sometimes a reduced section where things that are going out of date or damaged are cheaper which is great if you don't have a lot of dosh (money). If you are doing regular shops at the same place, it will be beneficial to get a loyalty card. This will gain points every time you shop, and although it feels like they take forever to build up, they do finally reward with money off shopping or tickets to attractions or the cinema. 


Type of Products



 
 When going through the aisles in a supermarket, you will find a large range of each product. This is because we have different categories of products that have varying qualities and prices. First we have branded products that are made by a manufacturer like Nestle or Kellogg's for example. Then we have the supermarkets own brands, which come in different categories like basic, own brand and premium. Basic will be the cheapest product on offer, normally with very plain packaging and other names such as 'saver' or 'value. Though the quality of these products is not the best, they can be very good value and provide what you need. Own brand products are the medium priced products that may cost slightly less than the branded product, and will be of similar quality to the brands. The highest quality products are the premium ones, sometimes called 'finest' or 'extra special'. They will be more expensive but are delicious and definitely worth it.
 

Choice of Supermarkets
 
   Depending on your budget, there are a range of supermarkets to suit everyone. The cheapest supermarkets in the UK are ones like Lidl, Asda and Iceland where you can get more for your money. In the medium range we have Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrison's which are the most popularly used by the majority of the general public. Then we have Waitrose and Marks and Spencer's which are more posh and have the best quality products at higher prices. Some supermarkets will have 'Local' branches which are mini versions of the shop but have most necessary products.
 

Checkouts



       In most supermarkets there are now a range of checkout methods. There are the normal checkouts where you will probably have to queue up and then place your shopping on the belt. Then there are smaller checkouts that will have fewer queues but you can only use it if you have for example '10 items or less', though you may be able to sneak in (do something in a secret way) 11 or 12 if you are lucky. 


The newest checkout method is the self service checkout which is best if you have a basket, not a trolley full of shopping. You have to scan each product yourself and then put it in a bag at the side to be weighed. It can be confusing at first but once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake and can save a lot of time. Most of the large supermarkets now offer online shopping which can be beneficial if you don't have a lot of time or feel too knackered (tired) to run around shopping. You place your order and pay online from the comfort of your home and the shopping is delivered within a few days. 


 A lot of supermarkets are now like small shopping malls and contain cafes and toilets just in case you need to spend a penny in the middle of your shopping. We have many giant supermarkets across the UK now which can look a bit intimidating at first but contain almost every product you can think of spread across 2 or 3 floors. Give it a try and enjoy!


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Are you going to study at a UK university and feel like you want to understand what people are saying on campus? These expressions are generally popular across the board (generally) and so will help you to settle down and fit in easily.

When you arrive you are a ‘fresher’ or first year (equivalent of the US freshman) and you participate in ‘freshers' week’ which is a roundup of events, presentations and parties. The best plan here is to attend everything, load up on all the freebies (slang for free items) that are given away at every stall but not to buy a Fresher’s Week Pass- which is an expensive group ticket to all the parties.

 At many events, be very careful of ‘snakebite’ sometimes called ‘purple’ which is an alcoholic drink, extremely popular amongst students because it is very cheap- but it can still be strong. This drink actually contains lager and blackcurrant.

Similarly, a very important phrase would be ‘it’s your round!’ In the UK small groups of friends often take turns buying drinks for each other, and this is your hint that you should pay next. 
When you’re not partying, you’ll need to be ‘hitting the books’ or studying hard because there’s plenty of work to be done. You will have regular ‘tut’s which are short for tutorials, seminars where you can discuss and interact, and lectures where there is less interaction and more listening. Real students say ‘I’ve got a 9am’ or ‘I’ve got four 8am-ers this week’ to discuss the time of their first class. Everyone envies the people who don’t have any 9 ams (classes starting at 9 o’clock)! 

When you get a chance to rest, it will be in ‘halls’ which are large blocks of flats containing individual student rooms. The good news is that, unlike most countries, UK students routinely have a private room but share their bathroom and a group kitchen. Because of this format, students often form groups of friends around those using the same kitchen.

UK universities award 4 classifications of degree; a first (the very best), a 2:1, a 2:2, and a third (not so great). The classification 2:2 is commonly called a ‘Desmond’ after the well-known archbishop Tutu- ‘two:two’= Tutu, get it? 

Teachers will all have ‘pigeonholes’ on campus which are small shelves where you can leave work for them or communications, so find out where these are.  Work that needs to be delivered to a teacher has to be ‘handed in’ on a certain date. Most unis also require work to be ‘double spaced’ with wide gaps between the lines so tutors can add comments.



Afterwards, you’re sure to need a ‘kip’ or a nice restful sleep to feel better! Beware of this, the most unfortunate outcome possible! So now you’re ready to enjoy university. Keep this advice in mind and you won’t go far wrong!

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In British English we have a strange expression - ‘going to see a man about a dog’ This has nothing to do with going to buy an animal! This phrase really is just a nonsense excuse British people use sometimes when they don’t want to say where they’re going. Anyone hearing it will instantly get the idea that you don’t want to be asked questions. It is normally said in a jokey/non serious way. If you’re doing something boring and ordinary you can also use this as an excuse to make it seem like your life is full of mystery and adventure!






A very common, but rather rude expression is ‘taking the piss’ which means teasing or making fun of someone-  it’s a very informal version of ‘mocking’. On TV, when comedians begin to make cruel jokes about someone, and make them look stupid, this is definitely what they’re doing. For a censored version that is completely polite, call it instead ‘taking the Mickey (out of someone). You can also turn this into an expression of surprise and frustration, if you think someones behaviour is terrible or unacceptable you can burst out and say ‘he’s taking the Mickey!’ This means that the person’s behaviour is so wrong and inappropriate you can only assume he’s trying to laugh at you and make you look silly.

Another favourite expression amongst Brits (British people) who like to go out and socialise is ‘to be on the pull’. If someone is ‘on the pull’ they have gone out specifically searching for romance, instead of just to have fun or catch up with friends. Being ‘on the pull’ often involves making an effort to talk to or dance with new people you’re interested in. If you are successful people will say that ‘you’ve pulled’ meaning that you’ve found a romantic encounter.
 
If during your social night out you have too many drinks, it can easily  happen (!) British people will call you ‘legless’, this is if you are really drunk - but of course, your legs are still present as usual!

It may be that you’re not walking as steadily as you normally would, or need the help of a few friends to accomplish that difficult activity- walking- and that’s what this slang expression is referring to.

The last British expression I want to talk about is the adjective ‘fit’. ‘Fit’ has only been in circulation with its new meaning since the 90s but is very well known, usually used by younger people and the tabloid media. ‘Fit’ no longer just means athletic, it’s come to also mean ‘really attractive’ in Britain.

There you have five phrases to get you off to a great start sounding like a native, see how many you hear on British TV and radio!

If you would like 1-1 private British English lessons with me please contact me 
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If you’re considering any long term work or study in the UK then a bank account is sure to be necessary and I’m here to make that process as interesting and, above all, painless as possible. First you need to choose where to open your new account! 

The good news is that most bank accounts in the UK are totally free to use- provided that you don’t spend money which isn’t yours. That process is called ‘going into your overdraft’ and indeed most students describe themselves as ‘living’ in their overdrafts because they are always borrowing from the bank. 

There are actually two main types of banking institutions in the UK- banks and ‘building societies’.  A building society is a financial institution owned by its members as a mutual organisation, but they function the same way as banks and as a customer you will not notice much difference.  Banks, well hopefully you already know how they work.

There are usually two different types of accounts you can open. One is  a ‘savings account’ which has the same name in US English and is for long term savers, with good interest rates (this means the bank pays you an incentive for keeping your money inside) but without any easy way of quickly accessing your money. The second is a ‘current account’ (US: checking account) where you can quickly withdraw money and use it to pay buy new things.

 The machine you use to withdraw money also has a couple of different names in the UK, often nicknamed a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ or ‘cash point’ (US: ATM or cash
dispenser).

When you want to open a bank account you’ll be asked for identification to make sure you aren’t someone famous in disguise. Proving who you are always involves a ‘utility bill’. This isn’t some kind of useful invention, but instead just a bill for water, gas, your telephone or electricity that shows you obviously live at the address you have provided.

Tip: if you live with lots of people ask your electricity company to put all of your names on the bill, not just one name. You will probably also be asked about ‘Council Tax’, this a tax that you pay to local government so that they come and empty your rubbish, put streetlamps outside your house and send the ‘fire brigade’ (fire service) if your house is on fire- and other things too. 

Once you have your account, you can enjoy all the benefits that come with
it. You can write ‘cheques’ (US: checks) Make sure they don't ‘bounce’- which means that they are worthless, Choose a bank that has a branch (a building) on your local high street (main street) so you can easily go there regularly if you need to pay in money.

Enjoy your new bank account!

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Have you noticed how obsessed the English-speaking world is with cooking? These days, turn on the TV and you’ll be greeted with cooking reality TV show competitions (yes, really) such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and a host of smiling TV chefs across every channel. This craze has created a new word: ‘foodie,’ for someone who really cares about good food. 


Ordinary people can easily become foodies! Another new invention is ‘gastropub’ meaning a reinvention of traditional pubs (which were mostly about drinking, but served a few sandwiches or a bag of peanuts) into places where you can enjoy quality meals with your beer. 

Ok, so lets learn some useful verbs for whenever you’re ready to get into the kitchen!

Imagine you want to make an impressive meal for someone- where do you start? Beginning with the savoury course, hopefully you’ll include some form of greens (vegetables). These will probably need to lose their skin- or be ‘peeled’- before being ‘diced’ or cut into small cubes like the dice you use to play board games. If you’re thinking of potatoes then I recommend ‘mashing’ them once boiled or hitting them until they form a smooth texture, which is really nice with sausages. That dish is called ‘bangers and mash’ in Britain.



Now would be a great time to add a pinch of salt pepper or herbs, which is called ‘seasoning’ the food. Maybe you need some extra flavour? Cheese for example- no problem! ‘Grate’ the cheese by scraping it against the holes of a grater so that small pieces break off, or, you can simply add your cut up food to a big machine (blender) that will mix it together into a smooth formation- ‘blending’. In English we have a special word for doing something similar to boiling, but with the liquid cooking the food kept at a low temperature for some time: ‘simmering’.  


No meal could be complete without something sweet to follow the first dish, so time to do some ‘baking,’ or cooking by dry heat, as we do for cakes and pies in the oven. Baking usually needs to be accurate, so ‘weigh’ your ingredients to measure how much you have- you can remember the pronunciation of ‘weigh’ because it’s an exact match with ‘way’. 


You’re probably using dry ingredients like flour or sugar- so be sure to ‘sieve’ for lumps. That means putting the granules through an object with small holes to get rid of any big pieces. Take care, ‘sieve’ isn’t pronounced the way you
think it is: /sɪv/!  Once all the ingredients are together it’s time to agitate them by hand so that they mix together, so ‘stir’ with a wooden spoon. If, on the other hand, you attack the food vigorously as you cook it and try to force air into the mixture, we call that ‘beating’- the same word as we use when you hit a person! Now get that masterpiece into the oven and enjoy the sweet smell of success!


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When was the last time you listened to native English speakers talking and felt completely confused about what they were saying? Probably quite a lot right?!

The confusion you feel is probably about slang and it’s no surprise because slang is built around people who share a communal culture and experience- that’s why it often springs up in schools, camps or other places where small communities form. 

Slang is almost like a secret language between people who have a shared connection. Well, in that case, this is article aims to help you! I’ll help you understand some of these strange, local, British words. 


Imagine you’re speaking with a friend, and she turns to you and says ‘You know Peter? He's a top bloke isn't he?’ 

So what does this strange ‘bloke’ word mean? Bloke is actually just an informal term for a man that is common in Britain and parts of the commonwealth. If you say - he's a top bloke - it just means he is a good guy.


 So imagine your friend then looks through her pockets and says she’s ‘skint’ but could you lend her some ‘dosh’? The clues are pretty clear here, ‘skint’ is slang for having no money and usually it’s a temporary situation, while ‘dosh’ means money. 

Money is such an everyday object that it has an amazing number of slang names- another one you might hear is ‘dough’ which comes from the idea
that money is the most basic of necessities, just like bread is the most basic food.  Pronounce ‘dough’ so that it rhymes with ‘so’- isn’t it annoying how many spelling variations there are for that sound? 

But, maybe your friend wants to try and get money from her mum instead, only she’s afraid her mum might get angry- she’ll probably tell you she hasn’t got the ‘bottle’ to do it. That’s right ‘bottle’ can mean ‘courage’- because drinking alcohol gives you the (often false) impression that you are very strong and brave! You can also use this as a slang verb: ‘she bottled it’ means she got too scared and didn’t do something e.g. bungee jumping. When was the last time you ‘bottled it’?


If, by now, the weather has turned British you can look upwards and say ‘it’s really chucking it down!’ because that phrase means very heavy rain- not just a light shower. The weather might be bothering you, and you’re likely to
get ‘cheesed off’ meaning angry or out of patience with the situation. On the other hand, as soon as it stops you’ll be ‘chuffed’ which means exactly the same as glad, or maybe even ‘gobsmacked’ (extremely surprised) at the miraculous sunshine! Then again, when life hands you lemons you are ‘gutted’ or devastated by an unexpectedly bad outcome.


If you would like 1-1 private British English lessons with me please contact me on my website. http://www.british-english-teacher.com
Even at home there are many changes in English and some of the most basic daily objects can have very different names. 

Take a look at your sink, if you don’t have a dishwasher, there’s a good chance there’s a pile of dirty plates and cups ready to be cleaned and dried. These are collectively called ‘the washing-up’ in British English, so that you ‘do the washing-up’ in the UK but ‘do the dishes’ in the US. 

Let’s widen our search a bit a bit around a kitchen. If you like to have a cup of coffee in the morning there’s a good chance you have your own machine for making fresh coffee, involving a plunger that can be pushed from the top of the pot to the bottom while refining the grounds. 

The UK obviously heard the French word and thought it sounded nice because in Britain it’s called a ‘cafetière’ but in the US it’s better known as a ‘coffee press’ or ‘French press’. 


But if you don’t have one, maybe you’ll need to make hot drinks another way. You can plug in your electric ‘kettle’ (US: teakettle) or else turn to your oven. ‘Oven’ is the general name for that big machine that cooks your food, but the gas or electric rings on top of it are collectively called ‘the hob’ (stove or stovetop) and here you can boil or fry easily. For British people, the ‘grill’ is the tray near the top of your oven where you can cook under a high heat, but when you do this outside you are barbecuing on a barbecue (in the US you are grilling outside). A barbecue is sometimes spelt ‘BBQ’, as well. 

Moving around your kitchen, those cloths that you use to dry clean plates and other items are called ‘tea towels’ (dish cloths) because, as has become very obvious, tea is pretty popular in Britain. 


To get everything rinsed you’ll need to use the tap (faucet) in the sink, too, and one thing you might need to ‘wash up’ is a liquidiser (blender) for making tasty smoothies in the morning. 

All electrical appliances will have a power plug on the end of it that you can plug into your ‘power point’ (electrical outlet). Did you know that food that comes sealed in a metal cylinder is ‘tinned’ in the UK rather than ‘canned’ in the US? That means in a British kitchen you’ll be needing a ‘tin opener’ to open your tin of baked beans. The word comes from the fact that the metal used in making these cylinders is called ‘tin’.  


Meanwhile if you’re looking to clean some clothes, rather than food items, you are ‘doing the washing’ (doing laundry) and you can hang those clothes outside to dry using a ‘clothes peg’ (clothes pin). That’s the environmentally-friendly way! 

If you have to throw things away in your kitchen, you have either recycling or ‘rubbish’ (trash) which you throw into your ‘rubbish bin’ (trash can). Take a look and see how many of these new vocabulary items you can find inside your own kitchen! 

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If you've seen the same word spelt two different ways, don’t assume the writer is a dodgy speller- though I'm not denying it’s a possibility..!

      Spelling can depend on where you’re from. The differences often involve just rearranging a few letters, and in the old days computers often did not have UK dictionaries so it would be amusing to see them constantly reversing pairs of letters in every other word as you wrote. 

Today, choosing the right spelling is all about your audience and where your writing will be read, so it’s a good idea to be up to speed on all options!

Certain short nouns, those stolen- *COUGH*, sorry, ‘borrowed’ :-)

directly from French, preserve their original spelling in UK English in spite of a change in pronunciation. 

Here are some examples: 


  • theatre
  • centre 
  • litre 
  • kilometre



In British English, this follows the rule of silent ‘r’s that we've discussed before, and since these are unstressed syllables at the end of a word, simply pronounce them as a schwa /ə/ e.g. /sombə/. 

However, in the US there have been a lot of movements to modernise spelling and generally make it more phonetic and easier for international speakers. 

In line with this, it’s standard in US English to write these words as e.g. theater, somber and liter. 

They are then pronounced exactly as you might expect with the final syllable as /litər)/ and a clearly audible ‘r’ sound to finish. The difference is purely about where the word is used, so don’t let it confuse you! 

Perhaps the most famous example of the next one is the old ‘color’ vs. ‘colour’ debate- it can be quite heated! Now in the internet-obsessed age you’ll probably have also seen ‘favorite’ and ‘favourite’ floating around your web browser. 

The important thing to know here is simply that British English prefers to hold onto an old, obsolete and unpronounced ‘u’ in numerous words next to the ‘o’.

We’re sentimental like that, and that ‘u’ is an old friend. Not a good enough friend, mind you, for us to pronounce the little fellow, so just pronounce the weak syllables you see him in as a schwa again: flavour, labour, endeavour, behaviour and saviour all follow the pattern of /seɪvjə/. 

In US English, these words and hundreds more are written without the ‘u’ and pronounced like this: savior /ˈseɪvjər/. This little ‘u’ does also make the odd appearance in a stressed syllable as in mould (US: mold) but still you only pronounce the ‘o’/moʊld/ (UK) and /mold/ (US). 


Finally let’s wrap things up with even more obsolete final letters that are kept on in British English- these ones are completely silent! Take, for example, catalogue (silent after the ‘g’), programme (silent after the first ‘m’), pedagogue (silent after the ‘g’) and cheque (silent after the ‘q’). 

US English has, unsurprisingly, removed these unpronounced letters entirely leaving you with something rather more phonetic: catalog, program, pedagog and check. So next time you see a spelling that surprises you, check to see if it’s an international variation. If it has extra useless letters, chances are it’s British English! 


Driving systems across the world vary greatly, and that’s just one reason for differences in this area of vocabulary. Especially different traffic control devices and markings on the road. 

At the time that cars were invented, also, communication between different parts of the world was so much harder, so it was easy for things to get named differently. Nowadays, we can fly across the planet in less than a day, but you’ll still hear a lot of confusing terms floating around


Did you know that people in the UK drive on the left-hand side of the road? It might seem dangerous to you, but I highly recommend it, if you visit! 



So let’s take a look around the car for some geographic differences. Ah, there’s one right under your nose! The front of the car, where you can lift the lid and find the greasy engine, that’s called the ‘bonnet’ (US: hood). 




That should be easy to remember once you know that long ago ladies wore bonnets as traditional hats, so the ‘bonnet’ covers the ‘head’ or engine of the car- logical! Of course, if the front is a hat, then the back of the car where you can store luggage, should be your footwear, and sure enough it’s the ‘boot’ (trunk). 

Back there you’ll also find a pair of ‘reversing lights’ (back-up lights) because they—big surprise—are used when you reverse. Below that you’ll find your ‘number plate’ (license plate) and the exhaust pipe (tail pipe), so-called because it ejects exhaust gases. 

Walking around to the front again, the large piece of glass you use to the view the road is your ‘windscreen’ (windshield) and you change gears with the ‘gear stick’ (gear shift). It’s worth knowing that the vast majority of cars in the UK require you to change gears yourself rather than simply put the car into drive (D). (Like in the USA)

A lot of Brits (British people) don’t know how to drive cars that don’t require gear changing, called ‘automatic cars’- as opposed to those you change yourself ‘manual cars’ (cars with a stick shift).




 


                         
          So, hop into the carI hope you brought your ‘driving licence’ -(driver’s license US) with you! Something else worth knowing is that British English has a separate spelling for the verb and noun, in this case: ‘to license’ and ‘a licence’. 



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Because these are pronounced identically, I use a handy trick to remember the different spellings. I think of the verb ‘to advise’ and the noun ‘advice’ which are pronounced, with a /z/ and /s/ sound respectively, and apply that rule to other pairs such as ‘practice/practice’. 
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Ok, so let’s exit the ‘car park’ (parking lot) and make sure we’ve got enough ‘petrol’  (gas) in the tank. 


As we drive you might see some ‘sleeping policemen’ (speed bumps) and you can imagine that you are traveling over a curled up policeman, forcing you to drive at a reduced speed. 


You won’t be able to avoid roundabouts (traffic islands) either! If you see a lady with a round sign helping children across the road she is the ‘lollipop lady’ (crossing guard) 


Because the shape of her sign looks like a children’s sweet or ‘lollipop.’ 


When you reach a high speed road with multiple lanes and a speed limit of 70 miles per hour, it’s the ‘motorway’ UK (freeway, this is US).  ‘Lorries’ (trucks in US....!) which are huge articulated vehicles used for transporting cargo can travel here but only at a slower speed. 


I hope you enjoyed today's lesson.




Time to cross the Atlantic again for that most important of topics- satisfying our hunger! Many of the differences in different types of English came about because words go through fashionable stages almost like clothes, people move with different trends. 

Remember that, before aeroplanes made the world a much smaller place and the internet allowed us all to communicate freely; it was very easy for branches of English to separate and develop into different varieties.

One trend that has been common in Britain has been the tendency to adopt French terms with little alteration. This is true especially in cooking. There seem to be so many French words adopted by the British.

The good news is that if you have some knowledge of French you’ll be ahead of the field






(In the below list, US equivalents appear in italics)



Perhaps the first thing to tackle is the names of the different meals within the day. Starting from the morning we begin, of course, with breakfast.

Some people then stop in the middle of the morning for a biscuit or piece of fruit with a hot drink- known as ‘elevenses’ (this is very British) because it’s eaten around 11 o’clock. 




In the middle of the day it’s time to eat again. For most people in Britain ‘dinner’ is the term for the main (hot) meal of the day, so when it happens depends on your preferred eating pattern. If you like a proper filling meal in the middle of the day then that is your dinner, but you can also have this meal at the end of the day after work. 





If your midday meal is not important enough to be your dinner, call it your lunch. Then in the evening, if not dinner, your meal could be called your supper. 


I hate to confuse you, but ‘tea’ can also refer to a meal in the UK, because tea is the usual accompaniment to food and the two have become closely associated. If a Brit (British person) says they are eating their ‘tea’ this is an informal term for the evening meal.


So, to be clear, the meals could be: 


  • breakfast-lunch- dinner          or
  • breakfast-dinner-supper/tea.



Let’s look at the names for specific foods in the US and UK that you might like to enjoy at these mealtimes. 

Beginning with the less healthy foods, you might snack on sweets (US: candy) and chocolate and you might like something wobbly and gelatinous- jelly (jello). 





You could also have a nice chocolate-covered biscuit (cookie) - a French term that has unfortunately received a totally Anglicised pronunciation /ˈbɪskɪt/. Be careful that ‘biscuit’ is reserved for a type of savoury quick bread in the US but in the UK means hard, sweet baked foods. 


 

If you go to a local fair to try the rides and play games to win prizes, they’re sure to be selling candy floss (cotton candy) from a huge machine. 

This is sugar, spun until it looks like an enormous white beard on a stick, and is a lot of fun to eat on these types of occasions. 



When you finish a meal in the UK and fancy something sweet you can ask for the pudding (dessert) menu. Around the world pudding is a specific food substance, but in the UK it also has the broader meaning of being a food course to follow your savoury dishes.

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Moving away from sweet things, when you go shopping for vegetables in the UK you could pick up two items that have retained their French names and pronunciation: aubergine, a round, shiny purple vegetable (eggplant This is American) 



Also courgette (zucchini) a long green stick, similar to a cucumber, but which is cooked rather than eaten in salads. 





You could also check out one of the most popular light meals in the UK, available in every pub. Simply take a large potato and cut it in half, the place in the oven with salt and cooked for 45 minutes until the potato is crispy on the inside and overflowing with soft insides. Serve with a chunk or butter, tuna or some baked beans. 




This dish is called a jacket potato (baked potato) in the UK because the potato appears to be escaping the ‘jacket’ of its skin. 


Moving to other potato products, things get a little confusing again. You have probably heard of the famous British favourite: fish and chips. The chips here are small wedges of potato fried in oil (French fries, in the US) and this is the standard meaning of ‘chips’ in the UK.  




The type of round salted potato slices that you buy in a foil bag are called crisps (potato chips). In the morning when you wake up you can cook up some ground oats with milk and other flavourings into a very filling breakfast and this is called porridge (oatmeal).




Now that you know your way around British food be sure to check out some new foods you might not have tried before, and get yourself down to your nearest food shop to practise your new vocabulary!

 You’re sure to find that Brits appreciate your effort in getting to know the correct local words.


Please contact me if you would like private British English lessons!

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