Slang in British English

Using English Slang

There are so many slang words and causal expressions in British English and I hear learners use them a lot. Should you be using them? I give my best advice and a few words at the end.

Should Learners Use Slang?

My advice: Consider not studying casual expressions until you’re advanced (or never!)


It can sound weird when a lower-level learner calls me “mate” or says “bloody hell” because it sounds forced or rehearsed.

 These kinds of phrases, by their nature, are not rehearsed and should be spontaneous. 

I understand that many people might be unhappy with this. As language learners, it’s always nice to think we can achieve anything a native speaker can – in most areas this is true. 

But I think we should remember that we are not native speakers and we never can be. But that’s not a bad thing. In many ways, you can have a deeper knowledge of the English language than the average native speaker (just ask a random person on the street to explain the present perfect tense and you’ll see what I mean!)


I actually think this is a positive thing. If you are worrying about casual expressions and pronunciation – don’t! There’s no need.

It will come naturally over time as you advance and spend more time listening to the right shows or talking to the right people. Forced expressions tend to have the opposite effect and leave you sounding less natural.


Conclusion: Learn for fun but don’t worry!

Casual British English Examples

Bloke – Means “man” or “guy”, with a lot of nuances. Often used by middle-aged men (I think of manual labour workmen, like builders).

Mate – Means “friend”, but often used for strangers in a very casual way. I don’t like to use it personally. It sounds a little cold.

Sick – Means “Good” or “cool”. Often used by younger, ‘cool’ people. Think of skateboarders.

Bloody hell – Quite old fashioned these days. I wouldn’t recommend using it.

Not my cup of tea – Means “I don’t like it – Really common! I recommend this one. It’s not too casual.

Chuffed – Means “Pleased” or “overjoyed”. This is common and a good one to use.

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