15 Simple Phrases to Make You Sound More British

If you want to sound more British, then these 15 phrases, typically only used by British people, will help you. Learn how to greet and joke in British English!

Table of Contents

  1. Why Try and Sound British?
  2. Can You Understand British English?
  3. How Do You Greet People in British English?
  4. How to Invite Someone in British English
  5. Different Ways to Say ‘Easy’ in British English
  6. Expressions to Talk about Being happy
  7. Joking in British English
  8. Phrases to Say You Are ‘Unhappy’
  9. Why do British People Say ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’?
  10. Different Ways to Say ‘I’m Tired’ in British English
  11. How Do the British Say Goodbye?
  12. Why should you learn British English?

Why Try and Sound British?

If you want to sound more British, then these 15 phrases, typically only used by British people, will help you.

Now just to be clear, you actually don’t need to try and sound like a British person.

You can be an effective and confident English speaker using a mix of American, British, Irish, Canadian and Australian phrases and accents.

You can even have a local accent (from your country) and still be a great communicator in English.

That said, these phrases can be extremely useful if you are living in, or going to live in, Great Britain.

They will help you better understand the local people.

Also, because many of these phrases are what we call slang (informal expressions used in a certain place), they can be used to surprise, create humour and build a connection with local people.

What’s more, these phrases will help you understand British films and TV series like Killing Eve, Sherlock, After Life, The Split, and many more.

Warning: If you are preparing IELTS, do not use these phrases in the IELTS Speaking test. They are slang. You should use informal speech, but not slang!
how to sound british

Can You Understand British English?

So, here is a challenge for you.

Watch the video clip below, and tell me how much of this British conversation you can understand.

Maybe 20%, 60% or even 90%?

Let me know in the comments section below!


Click arrow to open/close tapescript

Now let’s have a look at all the different phrases that came up in this conversation.

I will show you other similar, more common phrases, as well as some synonyms, and give you some clear explanations of the meaning and usage of these phrases.

British English

How Do You Greet People in British English?

The most common greetings in English are

A: Hello!

B: Hi!

But, in many parts of Britain, we also use the following with friends and family

A: Hiya

B: Hiya

This is pronounced the same as ‘higher’

A very common greeting is ‘alright’ and is actually used as a question, and the response is the same word! It probably means ‘are you alright?’ but we just use it to mean ‘hello’.

A: Alright?

B: Alright?

After saying ‘hello’, most people then ask the following, which is probably the most common greeting;

A: How are you?

B: Fine, thanks

In addition, in very informal situations we often use the following instead,

How’s it going?

How are you doing?

How’s tricks?

And the answer in British English is often very calm and underwhelming, such as,

Not bad

Can’t complain

Mustn’t grumble

Same old, same old

  • To grumble = to complain
Greeting friends
How to Invite Someone in British English

Of course the most common way to invite people to something or to do something is to say,

  • Would you like a _____?
  • Would you like to _____?

For example,

Would you like a coffe?

Would you like to go out for a drink?

In British English, we also use the word ‘fancy’ which can mean to like someone (and find them attractive) and also to feel like something or doing something. In this case of inviting, we are using the second meaning.

Fancy a coffee?

Fancy going out for a drink?

Notice: We often drop ‘do you’ in questions like this. This is a form of ellipsis
Different Ways to Say ‘Easy’ in British English

We have the following great idiomatic expression in English, to say something is easy;

  • It’s a piece of cake

A more slang word used in Britain is ‘a doddle’. This is often used to talk about an activity such as an exam, or a skill.

That exam was a doddle, I am sure I have passed.

I find cooking an absolute doddle

Piece of cake
Expressions to Talk about Being happy

When it comes to being happy, there are so many words and idiomatic expression for this, especially to say you are very happy. The more common ones are,

  • I’m delighted
  • I’m over the moon
  • I’m thrilled
  • I’m thrilled to bits

A British slang word for this is ‘chuffed’ or ‘chuffed to bits’. For example,

I’m chuffed that I passed that exam

I am chuffed to bits that you have come to visit me

Joking in British English

Likewise, there are many ways in general English to say you are joking. Here are the common ones;

  • I’m joking,
  • I’m kidding
  • I’m pulling your leg.

A more British phrasal verb for this is ‘to have someone on’. For example,

I am not really getting married. I’m just having you on.

IELTS Students joking

Phrases to Say You Are ‘Unhappy’

We have talked about being happy and joking, but what about the opposite?

Well, common synonyms of being unhappy about something are,

  • I’m upset
  • I’m down
  • I’m down in the dumps

A common British slang word for being unhappy and also disappointed is ‘gutted’. For example,

I failed my exam. I was so sure I would pass, so I’m really gutted

Sometimes, the reason we are unhappy is that we have made a mess of something, such as an exam or even cooking a dish, or indeed any activity that hasn’t gone well.

A nice idiomatic and slang expression for this is ‘to make a pig’s ear of something’, as in the example below,

I was trying to paint a sunset, but it looks terrible, I made a pig’s ear of it.

Why do British People Say ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’?

This British expression means, ‘it’s that easy’ or ‘there you are, it’s done!’ When people are faced with problems we are often quick to give them a solution. After giving the solution we typically say,

  • There you are!
  • There you have it!
  • Voila! 

‘Voila’ as you might guess, is actually a French word that we use in English, meaning, ‘there it is’ or ‘there you are’. British people like to get a bit creative, and we also use this confusing, but funny expression, ’Bob’s your uncle’.  It has nothing to do with members of your family, it just means ‘and there you are’. Here’s an example, giving some advice to a friend who failed their exam.

So, don’t worry, next time, just study hard, be patient, and Bob’s your uncle.

Bob's your uncle

Different Ways to Say ‘I’m Tired’ in British English

There are many ways of saying you are tired in general English. You may know the following,

  • I’m exhausted
  • I’m beat
  • I’m worn out

In Britain, we often use the word ‘knackered’ which is slang, and is quite strong and should only be used with close friends. It actually has two slang meanings, ‘to be tired’ or ‘to be broken’.

I don’t really want to go out tonight, I’m too knackered. I think I will stay at home.

Of course, if you are tired, you need to rest. These are common expressions and synonyms for this;

  • To get some rest
  • To have a rest
  • To have a sleep
  • To have a siesta

In Britain, the following are also all very popular ways of saying this,

  • To have a nap
  • To have a kip
  • To have forty winks
  • To have a snooze
  • To get some shuteye

How Do the British Say Goodbye?

In general English, you can say goodbye with any of the following phrases,

  • See you later
  • Catch you later
  • Bye
  • See you now
  • Take care

In Britain, we also use the following more slang expressions.

  • Cheers
  • Cheerio
  • Ta ra
  • Ta ta

So there you are, lots of expressions that British people use, and that can help you better understand British people as they really speak.

Let me know in the comments below which was your favourite expression, or any other British expressions you know!
British people

Why Should you learn British English?

Learning British English can offer several advantages, depending on your goals and circumstances. Here are a few reasons why you might consider learning British English:


  1. Cultural Exposure: Learning British English can provide insight into the culture, history, and traditions of the United Kingdom. It can enhance your understanding of British literature, media, and art.
  2. Global Influence: British English is one of the most widely spoken and recognized versions of English globally. It’s the language of diplomacy, international business, and academic research.
  3. Academic and Professional Opportunities: If you plan to study or work in the UK, having a strong grasp of British English will be essential for effective communication and integration.
  4. Communication: Learning British English can make it easier to understand and communicate with speakers from the UK, as well as with English speakers from other parts of the world who are more accustomed to the British accent and idioms.
  5. Cultural Adaptation: If you’re planning to live or travel in the UK, knowing British English will help you navigate everyday situations, make friends, and engage with local communities more effectively.
  6. Media Consumption: Much of the world’s literature, movies, television shows, and music come from English-speaking countries, including the UK. Understanding British English will enrich your experience of these cultural products.
  7. Language Variety: Learning different English dialects, such as British English, can expand your linguistic skills and help you adapt to various language styles and contexts.
  8. Pronunciation and Accent: British English has a distinct accent and pronunciation, which some learners find attractive and enjoyable to imitate.
  9. Standardization: British English often serves as a reference point for English language standards in fields like linguistics, publishing, and broadcasting.
  10. Personal Enrichment: Learning any new language variation is a rewarding intellectual pursuit. It broadens your horizons, improves cognitive function, and boosts confidence.

Remember that the choice of learning British English versus another English variation, like American English, depends on your individual goals and preferences. Both varieties have their merits, and the choice should align with your needs and interests.

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