What is British English
Listening
What is British English?

Which of the following are examples of British English? A) I'm a little bit worried about… B) I'm a wee bit worried about... C) I'm really happy with… D) I'm made up with... You might be surprised to know that the answer is all of them!  ‘Wee’ is used in parts of Scotland to mean ‘little’, and ‘made up’ is used in some regions in the north of England to mean you’re really happy about something good that has happened. So, if you’re planning to live, work or study in Britain after taking your IELTS test, here are some differences in British English you might notice. Pronunciation If you travel from one city to another (or in some cases one town to another), you’ll probably notice that people have different accents. When living in England, I was always fascinated by how different people sound depending on where they come from, and now as an English language teacher, I understand how difficult it must be for people learning English. While you won’t hear people with strong regional accents in the IELTS Listening test, you certainly will if you visit Britain or work with British people. For a quick accent tour of the UK and Ireland, check out this video recorded by the BBC.  (Received Pronunciation, or BBC English as it’s sometimes known, is probably the British English accent you’re most familiar with). {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/-8mzWkuOxz8.jpg?itok=TBdAkVIv","video_url":"https://youtu.be/-8mzWkuOxz8","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":1},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive, autoplaying)."]} If you need to understand a regional accent, one way to practise is to listen to the news from a local broadcaster. If you’re planning to visit or study in Wales, for example, you could watch the ITV Wales news.  Grammar One of the most noticeable differences in grammar is how the pronoun ‘our’ is or isn’t used depending on where you are.  If you’re living or travelling in the north of England, you’re very likely to hear ‘our’ used with the names of family members, e.g. Where’s our John? You’re much less likely to hear this in the south of England, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have seen it in any grammar books! A difference that you’ll notice if you go to certain parts of Wales is the addition of ‘to’ after ‘where’ in questions like ‘Where to is the bank?’. While these examples may sound wrong to you, they are all examples of British English. I wouldn’t recommend using them in your IELTS Speaking test though as they’ll probably sound wrong to the examiner if you use them without other features of English from the same region. Vocabulary As the examples of ‘wee’ and ‘made up’ above show, the words and phrases that British people use can be different depending on where they are from. If you’re in Liverpool, for example, you might well hear a conversation like this: Man 1: You alright, lad? Man 2: I’m sound.  Or this: Man: Our John’s just passed his driving test. Woman: That’s boss that. In these examples, ‘lad’ is an adult man, ‘sound’ means ‘okay’, and ‘boss’ means ‘great’. So, if you take your IELTS test in Liverpool, what are you going to say when you get the score you need? That’s boss that! Best of luck with your IELTS test. Pete

Pete Jones

12 May, 2020

What is British English?

What is British English

Which of the following are examples of British English?
A) I'm a little bit worried about…
B) I'm a wee bit worried about...
C) I'm really happy with…
D) I'm made up with...

You might be surprised to know that the answer is all of them!  ‘Wee’ is used in parts of Scotland to mean ‘little’, and ‘made up’ is used in some regions in the north of England to mean you’re really happy about something good that has happened.

So, if you’re planning to live, work or study in Britain after taking your IELTS test, here are some differences in British English you might notice.

Pronunciation

If you travel from one city to another (or in some cases one town to another), you’ll probably notice that people have different accents.

When living in England, I was always fascinated by how different people sound depending on where they come from, and now as an English language teacher, I understand how difficult it must be for people learning English.

While you won’t hear people with strong regional accents in the IELTS Listening test, you certainly will if you visit Britain or work with British people.

For a quick accent tour of the UK and Ireland, check out this video recorded by the BBC.  (Received Pronunciation, or BBC English as it’s sometimes known, is probably the British English accent you’re most familiar with).


If you need to understand a regional accent, one way to practise is to listen to the news from a local broadcaster. If you’re planning to visit or study in Wales, for example, you could watch the ITV Wales news

Grammar

One of the most noticeable differences in grammar is how the pronoun ‘our’ is or isn’t used depending on where you are. 

If you’re living or travelling in the north of England, you’re very likely to hear ‘our’ used with the names of family members, e.g. Where’s our John?

You’re much less likely to hear this in the south of England, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have seen it in any grammar books!

A difference that you’ll notice if you go to certain parts of Wales is the addition of ‘to’ after ‘where’ in questions like ‘Where to is the bank?’.

While these examples may sound wrong to you, they are all examples of British English. I wouldn’t recommend using them in your IELTS Speaking test though as they’ll probably sound wrong to the examiner if you use them without other features of English from the same region.

Vocabulary

As the examples of ‘wee’ and ‘made up’ above show, the words and phrases that British people use can be different depending on where they are from.

If you’re in Liverpool, for example, you might well hear a conversation like this:

Man 1: You alright, lad?
Man 2: I’m sound. 

Or this:

Man: Our John’s just passed his driving test.
Woman: That’s boss that.

In these examples, ‘lad’ is an adult man, ‘sound’ means ‘okay’, and ‘boss’ means ‘great’.

So, if you take your IELTS test in Liverpool, what are you going to say when you get the score you need?

That’s boss that!

Best of luck with your IELTS test.

Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

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