Learning English is challenging and can often be a process that doesn’t end. As you make your way from level to level, grappling with grammar rules and exceptions, coming to grips with skills and acquiring new vocabulary, you’ll notice the language is vast and changing. Native English speakers might not necessarily speak like those people you encounter in course books and on course CDs. So as you become more comfortable with the language, you will want to start sounding more like a native speaker. This is where slang and colloquial language comes into play.

British English certainly has some fun expressions to learn. Just be warned that some of them are not so polite. Below are a few of my favourites:

1. Hunky-dory is a lovely expression to say that everything is good, fine or ok. “Things are hunky-dory at the office today because the boss is off sick”. This expression is actually American in origin but is used throughout the United Kingdom.

2. Taking the piss out of someone or something is one of the less savoury expressions and means to mock something, which the British enjoy doing. The origin of this expression doesn’t need to be explained and I suggest that you look it up yourself. “The comedians really took the piss out of the prime minster yesterday on telly”.

3. Mate is a ubiquitous expression that is used informally when addressing a close friend. It is thought to originate from ‘meat’ and from the act of people dining together, on friendly terms. It is also a useful word to use when you don’t remember someone’s name! “Thanks for dinner, mate”.

4. Cheers is used in the UK as well as in South Africa for two reasons. The one is before drinking an alcoholic beverage and toasting and the other is an informal way to say ‘thank you’. “Cheers for the drink.” Or “Here’s to your new job. Cheers!”