Today I thought I would write about some British slang phrases, expressions, and idioms. So today I’m going to give you a lovely long list of phrases that I’ve thought of recently. And I’m gonna give you some examples and I’m gonna make sure that you really understand them so that you can use them in your daily life as well.
Some of them are going to be quite informal, so you might not want to use them in English exams, but if you’re visiting the UK or America, I focus on British English here, but many of these are relevant for American English as well. I’m just gonna call them British English expressions to make sure that anyone who wants to learn British English knows that this article will help them. Quickly before we get started, I just want to thank the sponsor of today’s article, italki. Italki is on online database full of native, non-native language teachers, and you can book in for private one-on-one lessons, and it’s a great way of getting corrected conversation practice if you don’t have access to a private teacher where you are.
You can get lessons 24-seven, every day of the year, every hour of the day, anywhere in the world, as long as you have an Internet connection. And they have given me a special discount to pass on to you. You can get a buy one, get one free on lessons. So you get $10 for free when you make your first purchase of $10. All you have to do is click on the link in the description box. You’ll see my smiling face. Sign up, make your first purchase, and then within 48 hours, they will manually add that extra credit to your account. Right, let’s get on with the lesson. Now, the first phrase is something that I might have mentioned in a previous article, but I feel like it’s really important, and extra important, because yesterday I met with friend and she told me a really funny anecdote. So the phrase is “to be knackered.”Now, this is informal.
It could be considered slightly rude, so be careful where you use it, not in professional or educational situations, but maybe around friends and perhaps family. To be knackered means you’re exhausted or really tired, and this is a phrase that I use all the time. Oh my god, I am knackered. I am exhausted. The reason that I wanted to mention it is because a friend was talking to me. I think she went on a date or something with an Italian guy, and he said to her after work, “Oh my god, I am absolutely naked.” And naked obviously means you have no clothes on, so I just want to reiterate the fact that the pronunciation of knackered is really important. You don’t want to go telling people you’re absolutely naked. You want to be knackered. I thought that was so funny and she said she did correct him very nicely, so good on her.
Okay, the next phrase is “to be skint.” If you are skint, you are in a poor financial situation. You have no money or nearly no money. So if someone says, “Do you want to go to the cinema tonight?” Then I’d say, “I can’t, sorry. “I’m absolutely skint.” It means I can’t afford it. I’m in a really difficult financial situation and oh my god, I had to use that phrase so frequently when I was at university. I had no money. Being a student in London is really expensive and quite a challenge actually. But it did inspire me to work very hard so that I could be financially stable one day in the future. Very colloquial. Not rude, but it’s a slang word, and it would be really impressive if you can use that around British people. On the other hand, number three, “to be quids in.”
Now, quid is a slang term for a pound. One quid, one pound. Two quid, two pounds. Ten quid, a tenner, ten pounds. A tenner, or a fiver, is more money slang for you. But if you are quids in, it means you are suddenly in a good financial situation. So maybe you placed a bet at the weekend and you won and now you are quids in. You’ve suddenly got lots of money. So it’s normally used to congratulate people. So if somebody wins a competition and they win 100 pounds,
I say, “Wow, you’re quids in, well done.”
The next one is “to be pants.” So I would say maybe, “Oh, that’s pants. (groans) “The show was pants.” Now, in American English, pants means trousers. But in British English, pants means underwear. I have written an article about the differences between American and British English. You can look at it up here. Oh!
That’s the watch I lost. Hopefully next hour it will do that again so I can find it. Yeah, so if we say something is underwear, when I say underwear, I mean like male underwear. I mean like boxers or briefs, normally male, but sometimes female, bottom half underwear. So if I’m saying something is pants, it means it’s rubbish. Really bad. So it’s quite a good way of saying that you didn’t like something, in a kind of jovial sort of way. It’s not very harsh, but then again, if somebody called my articles pants, I would be a bit upset. Because a lot of work goes into them. I don’t expect everyone to dislike my articles, but at least appreciate the effort.
Yeah, so it’s not so modern. It has been used for many years. So don’t expect to be all down with the kids, to be down with the kids is to be young and modern, by using to be pants, but it’s a good phrase that you will hear fairly frequently in the UK. Now, the next one is actually a phrasal verb, but it’s a slang phrasal verb, so if you didn’t think that phrasal verbs could get any worse, they can. We have slang phrasal verbs. And this phrasal verb is “to swear down.” If I say, “I swear down, I did not eat your last pizza slice,” I’m saying, “I swear on my heart, I promise you “on my dog’s life, that I did not do that.” Okay, so it’s basically a longer way of saying I swear. I swear to you. I swear down.
The next phrase is “to get one’s knickers in a twist.” So if I say to somebody, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.” It’s normally aimed at females. It means don’t get flustered. Don’t get agitated. Something that happens to all of us, I can’t find my phone. Oh, I just pulled one of my own hairs. I can’t find my phone and I need to leave and I’m getting in a flap. I’m getting flustered, agitated, I’m fussing. My boyfriend might say to me, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Lucy. “Just calm down, and look for it.” I think the Americans might say, “Don’t get your panties in a bunch,” but I’m not sure. Is there any Americans reading this? Can you confirm that for me? I’ve seen it online, I have researched it. But I’ve never heard an American say it. So this is normally said to females because obviously we wear knickers, but when it’s said to males, it can be slightly more offensive. Although it can be offensive to women, depending on how you say it. But sometimes it’s just affectionate. But if you say it to a man, it can be used to imply femininity if you know that the implication of femininity towards the man is going to annoy him further. So yeah, try not to use it in a patronizing way.
The next one “to throw a spanner in the works.” So you might be doing a task, and then you might say, “Oh, that’s thrown a spanner in the works.” It prevents something from happening smoothly. So I could be putting up a picture with a hammer and the hammer breaks, and I’ll say, “Oh, that’s thrown a spanner in the works.” There I was happily hammering away. The picture was going to be up in five minutes, but now the hammer is broken, so I have to go out, get a new one, you get the picture. The next one is to do with going out. This one is “to be out on the pull.” If you are out on the pull, it means you are going to go out with the intention of finding a romantic partner. It means you are actively looking for somebody. So when I was single, I sometimes used to go out on the pull in London with my girlfriends and the place that we always used to go to was Tiger Tiger. There was always a great selection there. So yeah, we always used to go out on the pull to Tiger Tiger. I would never go back. Actually, never say never. With the right group of people, it would be good fun especially on a Wednesday.
The next phrase, and I know for sure that this is used in America as well, “you have got to be kidding me.” It means you have to be joking. You must be joking. And it can be used in two ways. It can be used to express anger or disbelief. “I can’t believe that. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Or if something’s really funny.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” So I hope you appreciated my acting skills there. I was never that good at drama at school. The next phrase is one, I think when used correctly, sounds really good, and it is “rightly so.” And it’s a nice little thing to add on the end of sentences. It means quite rightly, correctly.
Everyone’s worrying about the pizza getting burnt, and rightly so. There is smoke coming from the kitchen. You know, it means with reason. The smoke is coming from the kitchen. And rightly so. Right, that’s it for today’s lesson. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you learned something. Don’t forget to check out italki. All of the relevant information is in the description box below, as well as the link that you can click on. I get loads of good feedback about italki, so I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Also, don’t forget to connect with me on all of my social media. I’ve got my Facebook, my Instagram, and my Twitter. And I will see you soon for another lesson.