difficult words to pronounce in English

Difficult words to say in British and American English

We’re looking at more words that English learners find tricky to pronounce and comparing how we say them in British and American English.
We’ll show you how we pronounce:
• island
• squirrel
• priority
• Leicester
• schedule
• vulnerable
• width
• peculiarly
And along the way we talk about silent letters in English, word stress, How R sounds are different in British and American English, and the tricky English th sound.

You’ve told us some of the words you find hard to say.
And we’re going to show you how we pronounce them.
In British English.
And American English.
Before we start, we need to explain something.
Everyone you’ll see in this video is a non-native English speaker.
Apart from us. I’m British and Jay’s American.
But everyone else speaks English as a second language.
Or third or fourth language. They’re all very smart.
And also very nice, because they let us film them. Let’s see them in action.

How to pronounce island


Oh no they’re all wrong.
It’s hard because the spelling is so different from the pronunciation.
There are two things to remember with this word.
The first vowel sound isn’t eee. It’s eye.
And the other thing is the ‘s’. It’s a silent letter. Island.
But some of our learners got it right. Say it with them.


How to pronounce squirrel

OK, next word.

Well done.
But it’s like kind of difficult to say, like skw and then the -rrel. Like squirrel. Yeah.

He did a good job. It starts with a ‘skw’ sound.
Yeah. And we say this word a little differently in British and American English.
In a lot of words I pronounce R sounds less strongly than Jay.
Or you don’t pronounce them at all.
True. But in this word you can hear my R sound – squirrel. -rel. It’s clear. It’s still different to your R sound though.
Squirrel, squirrel
Your R is so strong and powerful that it replaces the vowel sounds! It sounds like skwrrl.
Squirrel. Squirrel.
Our learners did a good job with this word though.
Say it with them.


Vicki doesn’t pronounce her R sounds properly because she’s British.
I beg your pardon!
We’ve made another video about that.
I’ll put a link here. What’s next?

How to pronounce priority


OK, we just need to make a little change here.
Is it pri(ee)ority or priority?
So we both say pry – priority.
And I say priority – with a clear t sound, and you say…
He flaps the t so it sounds a little like a fast d sound.
Well of course. Good pronunciation is my priority!
Say it with our learners.


How to pronounce Leicester

OK, next word.


That was a hard one!
I know. The spelling’s so weird.
Leicester’s is the name of a city in England. It’s in the Midlands.
And in the US, there are towns called Leicester in Massachusetts and New York state.
I didn’t think any students would get it right because the spelling is so strange, but some did.

I have the English Monopoly, so I know it.

So it’s a place on your Monopoly board?
Yes, Leicester Square. It’s a theatre district in London. Say it with us.
Leicester Square.
Leicester Square.
OK. We had a lot of requests for the next word.

How to pronounce schedule

Erm, schedule.

They’re all correct! Good job!
But there’s another way of saying it too.


They’re correct too for me! Jay and I say this word in different ways.
So in British English, you say sh – Schedule.
Yeah. Schedule.
So you don’t say sk- schedule?
Well, here’s the thing. These days a lot of British people do. American English has influenced how we speak.
So you’ll hear some people in the UK say schedule these days.
Uh huh.
Say it with us.
Schedule or schedule.
And I thought of something else. What’s this?
It’s a train schedule.
Uhuh. And I’d say it’s a train timetable. So another thing that happens is we often say timetable where you’ll say schedule.
OK, what’s the next word?

How to pronounce vulnerable


Not quite, but they’re almost there!
Yes, the main stress needs to be on VUL. Vulnerable.
What does it mean?
If someone is vulnerable then they’re weak.
It’s easy to hurt them, physically or emotionally.
An army could be vulnerable to attack.
And children who aren’t vaccinated are vulnerable to the measles.
How many syllables does vulnerable have?
Good question. Vuln-e-ra-ble, 4, but this second syllable is just a schwa and sometimes it practically disappears.


They were good.
Yes, say the word with us.
You know there’s a lot of regional variation with how we say some of these words in the UK.
That’s true in the US too. If you say words differently, write and tell us in the comments.
OK, what’s next?

How to pronounce width


Perfect! They said it very well!
Next word then.
No! We need to look at how they did it.
OK. So what does width mean?
How wide something is, is its width – so the distance from one side to the other.
So wide is the adjective and width is the noun.
Some people think this is one of the hardest words to say in English.
I think it’s because with the /d/ sound you have to stop the airflow, ‘wid’ but then you have to start it again to make the ‘th’ sound. Wid-th.
Is there a way to make it easier?
Well, you could try saying ‘with’, without the /d/ sound. Some of our learners did that.

With. With. Something like that.

I’d understand them, I think.
Oh yes, me too. So that’s a cheat you can use if you find this hard. But ‘width’ is better of course.
Try saying it with us.
OK, the next one’s a long word.

How to pronounce peculiarly

Erm. Peculiarly. Something like that.

How many syllables does this word have?
Peculiarly. Five.
OK, that’s the right number of syllables, but where’s the main stress?
Peculiarly– cue – the second syllable.


They did well!
I agree because it’s a ‘peculiarly’ difficult word!
There’s a really cool technique for pronouncing long words like this.
Yeah. Often they’re easier if you backchain them, so start at the back and work forward.
Try it with me.
Could you say it?
And now we want to say a big thank you to all the English learners who appeared in this video.
They were such good sports.
If you’ve enjoyed it, check out our other videos about words that are hard to pronounce.
We have a series now. I’ll put a link at the end of this video.
And why not share this video with a friend. They might enjoy it too.
Have a great weekend everyone and see you soon.
They did well.
I agree because it’s a pecu-. Peculiarly.
They did well.
I agree because it’s a peculiarly difficult word.
Because it’s a peculiarly difficult word.
One more time. I’m going to make you do it again.
Oh no.
Peculiarly. Oh I got it right!

ielts speaking exam

IELTS speaking test: things you need to know

Well prepared students do best in the IELTS speaking exam and we can help.

This is the first in a series of videos about the different parts of the exam where you’ll find answers to these questions:
How long is the IELTS speaking exam? (11-14 minutes)
How many parts does the IELTS speaking test have? (Three)
What are the three parts?
– a Q&A on familiar topics
– a long turn (talk)
– a Q&A on abstract topics
You’ll see what happens when an IELTS exam starts and learn how IELTS examiners score.
You’ll also see what happens at the very start when the IELTS examiner turns on their recorder.

The IELTS exam tests students at all levels of English and IELTS publish descriptions of the different band levels which you can find here.

We have hundreds of videos on our channel to help you with your listening, speaking, grammar and vocabulary before your exam. Make sure you check them out.

IELTS Speaking Exam

Hello everyone. I’m Keith.
And I’m Vicki and we have lots of tips and tricks for you about the IELTS speaking exam
The IELTS exam tests four skills. When we ask our students which one they feel most nervous about they often say speaking. So if you feel nervous too, you’re not alone.
And we can help. We’re going to show you what happens, and give you tips so you can get a good score. In this first video we’ll tell you some general things about the speaking test. But first, let’s see how much you know already.
We have a quiz for you and here’s the first question: how long does the test last? What do you think?
The answer is 11-14 minutes. It may sound like a long time, but after the exam, most students say it went really quickly.
OK, another question. How many parts does the speaking test have?
There are three parts to the test. Part one is a Q&A, so the examiner will ask you questions that you’ll answer. They’re all questions about you and your life.
In part two the examiner will give you a topic to talk about and you’ll speak for one to two minutes.
And the final part is another Q & A, but this time the examiner will ask questions about more abstract topics.
So every part is different and in this series of videos we’ll go through them one by one. And we’ll show you what to do and what not to do, so you can get your best score.
Another thing you should know is IELTS speaking tests are always recorded.
In some places the examiner will start the recording before you enter the exam room. In other places they will start the recording while you’re there.

Hi, take a seat. This is the speaking test of the International English Language Testing System, taking place on July 20th at 6800 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. Centre number AS555. The candidate is Ksenia Shor and the candidate number is 89352. The examiner is Vicki Hollett, examiner number 968254.
Good morning. My name is Vicki Hollett. Can you please tell me your full name?
Ksenia Shor.
And what should I call you?
You can call me Ksenia, or Kate if you like.
And can I see your identification please, Ksenia?
Of course, here you are.
Thank you.

And that’s how the exam begins. It’s hard not to feel nervous, but most examiners are friendly and they’re on your side. They’ll want you to do well.

Can you tell me your full name, please?
My full name is Jason Arthur Sebastian Robertson the third. I was named after my grandfather …
And what should I call you?
Well, I have several nicknames. Some people call me Morse because I know the international Morse code and some people call me ‘Cuckoo’. I’m not sure why. And some people call me…

Jay shouldn’t give a long answer here. The examiner just wants to check his name on her list. So just state your name briefly.

You can call me Ksenia, or Kate if you like.

The examiners record the exam so they can listen back later if they want to check your score and, also, so that IELTS can make sure that all candidates are graded correctly and in the same way.

How IELTS examiners score

And speaking of grades, here’s one last question. The examiner will grade you on different things. Which of these things are important? Are there any that don’t matter?
These are the four criteria they’ll use to score you. The examiner doesn’t care about your appearance, so don’t worry about wearing a suit or tie. They’re just interested in the quality of your English.
The examiner will give you a score from one to nine for each of these criteria and they’re all equally important for your overall score. So let’s take a look at what they all mean.
Fluency is about speaking easily, without a lot of hesitation. And coherence is about how well you can connect your ideas so they’re easy to understand. So can you explain your thoughts logically and without too much repetition?
Lexical resource is about vocabulary. Do you know enough words to talk about a variety of topics? Do you know common idioms and which words collocate – so which words commonly go together?
The next one’s grammar so how accurate is your English and how many mistakes do you make? But notice the examiner also wants to hear your range. So can you use different tenses and sentences with different clauses? More complex grammar will get you a higher score.
And finally, what’s your pronunciation like? Is it clear and easy to understand? Having an accent is fine, so long as your pronunciation is easy to understand. The examiner will be listening for how well you connect your speech, your word and sentence stress, and your intonation. And, can you maintain good pronunciation across phrases and longer sentences?
So those are the four criteria they’ll use to score you. The exam tests students at all levels of English and IELTS publish descriptions of the different band levels. We’ll put a link to their descriptors below and you should check them out.
Well prepared candidates do best in this exam, so it’s great that you’ve found us. Stay tuned for our next videos where we’ll have lots of tips. And don’t forget. Subscribe to both our channels!
And if you liked this video, why not share it with a friend? See you soon everyone. Bye!

We have hundreds of videos on our channel to help you with your listening, speaking, grammar and vocabulary before your exam. Make sure you check them out.
We’ve made this video in collaboration with our friend Keith from IELTS Speaking Success.

test your English and avoid common mistakes

How good is your English? Quiz 3

Are you ready to test your English?
We’ll ask you to identify 6 English mistakes and choose your answer before the clock stops ticking.
We’ll then explain what’s wrong and show you examples of the correct English in action so you can avoid common mistakes. We’ll also direct you to videos if you want more help with grammar and vocabulary.
In this video we look at:
– what does it mean?
– used to vs. in former times
– used to do vs. be used to doing and get used to doing
– good at
– actually vs. currently
– stop to do vs. stop doing

Click here and here to see more quiz videos.
Click here to see a video on stop to do and stop doing.
Click here to see a video on actually.
Click here to see a video on used to do and be used to doing.

Test your English and avoid common mistakes

Hello everyone. I’m Vicki.
And I’m Jay and we’re back with some more tricky English questions.
We’re going to test how good your English is, and we’ll also fix some common mistakes!
We have six questions for you today.
And you have to answer them before the clock stops ticking. Are you ready?
Let’s start with an easy one. This is a very common mistake.
Imagine you’re having an English lesson and your teacher is using the word ‘collocations’.
You don’t understand what the word means so what do you say?
What means ‘collocations’?
What does ‘collocations’ mean?
Do you know what ‘collocations’ means? Collocations are words that we generally use together.
We’ll look at one later, but first look at this useful question. ‘Mean’ is the main verb here and it’s a normal verb. So to form the question you need an auxiliary verb.
‘Do’ is the auxiliary verb, or help verb. Students often forget to use it so make sure you don’t.

Kathy, do you have a moment?
I just received this message and I don’t understand it. What does IDK mean?
The letters IDK?
I don’t know.
Hmm. I’ll ask Vicki. Vicki, what does IDK mean?
I don’t know.
I don’t know either. People are so hard to understand. I’ll go ask Louise.

OK. What’s the next question?
This one’s about me. I’m British, but I don’t live in England anymore.
She lives in the US with me.
So what could you say about me?
In former times Vicki lived in England.
Vicki used to live in England.
Vicki’s used to living in England.
‘In former times’ is grammatically correct, but it sounds wrong.
Yes, it’s a direct translation from some other languages, but it doesn’t work in English.
It’s much too formal. We just don’t say it.
Say ‘used to’ instead. We use ‘used to’ to talk about things that were true in the past, but are not true now.
So things that we’ve stopped doing. We often use ‘used to’ to talk about past habits.

Jay, try some of this.
What is it?
We used to eat it all the time when I was growing up in England.

Never try Marmite. It’s horrible stuff!
Don’t listen to him. It’s really good!
And what about the other sentence?
Ah, now this is grammatically correct too, but it doesn’t work here because it’s not true.
Vicki’s used to living in the US, not England.
Exactly. The meaning’s different. When we are used to something, we’re accustomed to it.
And we can also get used to something’ – that means grow accustomed to it.

Where are the tomatoes?
You mean the tomatoes.
He’s still getting used to my accent.

These two structures look very similar but they have different meanings.
‘Used to’ is for describing past habits, and ‘be or get used to’ means accustomed to.
It’s very tricky. We should have another question about this.
OK, here’s another one. In the US, everyone drives on the right side of the road, but in England people drive …
On the wrong side.
People drive on the left side in England. I live in the US now so which sentence or sentences are correct here.
I used to drive on the right side of the road.
I’m used to drive on the right side of the road.
I’m used to driving on the right side of the road.
‘Used to’ is wrong here because Vicki drives on the right side now. It’s not a past habit.
And it’s wrong to say ‘I’m used to drive’ too. That’s because after ‘be used to’ we need a noun.
‘Used to’ is followed by a verb. But ‘be used to’ is followed by a noun.
If you want to use a verb after ‘be used to’, you have to use a gerund, a noun form of the verb. So we say driving not drive.
But you know, I think this sentence is wrong too.
Yeah, it’s grammatically correct but it’s not true. Sometimes you forget which side we drive on here, and you get in the car on the wrong side.
I think this should say you’re getting used to driving on the right side.
If you’d like to see more examples, follow this link.
What’s the next question?
It’s a quick one. Imagine you have a friend who speaks 6 languages.
What could you say about her?
She’s very good in languages.
She’s very good at languages.
When we’re talking about skills, we say ‘at’ – so good at, clever at, bad at, terrible at …
‘Good at’ is a collocation because we often use the words ‘good’ and ‘at’ together.
You know you’re so good at making coffee Jay.
Oh, thank you!
Could you make me another cup?
Let’s have the next question.
OK. This one’s about a word that’s a false friend in many languages.
A customer calls you on the phone and asks to speak to your boss. But your boss is on the phone at the moment, talking to someone else.
What will you tell your caller?
I’m afraid she’s actually assisting another customer.
I’m afraid she’s currently assisting another customer.
The word ‘actually’ might look similar to a word in your language.
But it probably has a different meaning in English.
Actually doesn’t mean ‘currently’ or ‘at the moment’ in English. It means ‘really’ or ‘in fact’.
So we often use actually when we’re saying something that’s surprising.
If you want to describe what’s happening now, actually is the wrong word. Say things like currently or at the moment instead.
And we also often use ‘actually’ when we want to correct someone, but in a gentle way.

You’ve written thirteen dollars, but actually it’s thirty.
Oh, is it?
Actually, that’s my coffee. That’s yours.

Lots of students make mistakes with actually, so we’ve made a video with more examples.
I’ll put the link here.
OK, next question.
Right. You have a friend who you used to see on Facebook. But you haven’t seen any posts from him for a while.
One day you bump into him in the street and ask why. What does he say?
I stopped using Facebook.
I stopped to use Facebook.
Stop is a special verb because we can follow it with a gerund, so an -ing form of a verb, or we can follow it with an infinitive, a ‘to do’ form of a verb. Both are possible.
But the meanings are different. When we stop doing something we don’t do it anymore. And when we stop to do something we stop in order to do something else.

Can you two stop playing that game and come and help us with a delivery?
I got forty points.

So there are two actions in both these sentences, but the timing of the actions is different. In the first sentence ‘playing the game’ was the first thing that happened and ‘stopping’ was the second.
And in the second sentence ‘stopping’ was the first action to happen and ‘helping with a delivery’ came second.

Hmm. I’ve got a question. I’ll skype Jamie. Jamie. Jamie.
Hey Vicki, I can’t stop dancing.
I can see. I’ve just got a quick question. Just a quick one? Not to worry. I’ll ask Mr Marcus.
Hello. Ah. Hey Vicki. I can’t stop to talk to you now. These knives are sharp.
Oh, be careful. Be careful.
Don’t worry. I’ll google it instead.

So are we done?
How did you do? Did you get all the questions right?
And was this quiz useful?
If you enjoyed it, give us a thumbs up and why not share it with a friend?
I’ll put the links in the description below to other videos that we’ve mentioned today.
And we’ll be back soon with a new video, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
And click that notification bell so you know when our next video comes out. Bye everyone.

Click here and here to see more quiz videos.
Click here to see a video on stop to do and stop doing.
Click here to see a video on actually.
Click here to see a video on used to do and be used to doing.

actual actually false friends

Actual & Actually: How to use these false friends in English

The English words ‘actual’ and ‘actually’ are false friends in many languages. You think they mean one thing but in fact they mean another.
In this video you’ll learn how to use these words to make your English more polite when you’re speaking.
You’ll see lots of examples in action and learn how to use them correctly.

Actual and Actually – false friends

These are very useful words in English. Use them correctly and they’ll help you to sound more natural and polite. But be careful. If you use them wrongly and you could confuse everyone.
Lots of languages have words that look and sound like these words, but mean something different, They’re false friends. You think you know what they mean, but actually they mean something different so they cause misunderstandings. In English actual and actually mean real and really.

The tap in our bathroom stopped working.
So we bought a new one. It cost $100.
And then we had to pay for shipping, so the actual cost was higher.
Yes, we actually spent $120.

So we use actual and actually to say things are really true. They mean something like ‘in fact’. We don’t use them to say things are happening now or existing now. Some languages have similar words with that meaning, but in English they don’t mean currently or at present.
We currently have five sales offices in Asia and we don’t expect that to change. We have no present plans to expand.
So could you change these words and say actually and actual here? If you did, you would change the meaning. If you want to say something is happening at the current time, you need to use expressions like these.
So that’s very important. Actually means in fact or really, not currently. Another example.

Jay. What are our sales like?
Fantastic! We’re doing really well.
Can I see the actual figures?
Sure. I have them right here… Actually, they’re not as good as I thought.So when I say ‘the actual figures’ do I mean the current figures, the up-to-date ones? No! I mean the real figures. I want to know the exact sales numbers.
Now notice how Jay says actually here. He’s telling me he’s surprised by the figures.

It must be really cold outside.
Actually it’s quite warm.
Oh, I’m surprised.

If we think information is going to be a surprise, we often introduce it with actually.

It looks expensive, but actually it’s quite cheap.
Really? How much is it?
I think it’s about 50 bucks.

So you can use actually to contrast what’s really true with what someone thinks is true. Let’s look at another example and this time, try to work out why I say actually.

Would you like some more coffee?
Oh, actually I’m going to leave in a minute, so no thanks.
Oh, OK.

So why do I say actually here? It’s because I think Jay is expecting a different answer and my answer will be a surprise. Another example. What’s happening here?

Have you got time to talk?
Actually, I’m pretty busy at the moment.
OK. I’ll come back later.

So why does Jay say actually? Same reason as before. He thinks his answer will be a surprise. But something else is happening here too. Jay thinks I might not like his answer. When you’re saying no to a request or giving an answer the other person doesn’t want, you can say actually to soften it. It’s a polite way of giving unpleasant information.

Actually, I’m pretty busy at the moment.
OK. I’ll come back later.

Now there’s one other very common way we use this word. When we say something wrong and we want to correct ourselves, we can say actually.

Do you have some scissors I can borrow?
No, sorry.
Oh wait a minute. Actually I have one here.
Oh, thank you very much.
You’re very welcome.

So actually shows I’ve changed my mind. You can use it to take back what you said before.

And how long have you been doing karate?
For two and a… For two years.
Actually one and a half.

So we use actually to correct ourselves if we say something wrong, and it’s also useful for correcting other people.

We have new rules for cell phones in our office.
Yes, well actually we have one new rule. We have to turn them off in meetings.
Our boss goes crazy when they ring.
Well actually it is annoying for everyone.
Well, actually it rang eight times. I think she was very nice about it, considering.

So actually is a gentle way to correct someone. OK, are you ready for a quiz?
I’ve got three questions for you. First one. Have a look at this sentence. What the missing word here? Is it currently or actually? Let see.

May I speak to Kathy, please?
I’m afraid she’s currently assisting another customer. Can I help?
No, that’s all right. I’ll call back later.

The missing word is currently. When we’re talking about things that are happening now we say currently or at present. Next one. What’s the missing word here? Let’s see.

It was a thriller about love and revenge.
It was based an actual event where a wife killed her husband.
It was very scary.

So the answer is actual. It means the event happened in real life. OK, last question. What’s the missing word here? Well, it could be either, but the meanings would be different. If we’re talking about an up-to-date, present amount, it could be currently. But if we’re talking about a mistake and this is a correction, then the missing word is actually. Let’s see.

You’ve written thirteen dollars, but actually it’s thirty.
Oh, is it?
Actually, that’s my coffee. That’s yours.

It was actually. We can use actually to correct what someone says in a gentle way when we want to be polite.
Great – so now you know what these words mean and how we use them in English. Are they false friends in your language? And do you have other false friends? Write and tell us in the comments. Hey, maybe we can make a video about them.
Please make sure you subscribe to this channel so you catch our future videos and see you next Friday! Bye now.

Present Perfect in English 3 uses

The Present Perfect in English – 3 uses

The present perfect connects the present and the past. In this English lesson we’ll show you how to form the present perfect and when use it.

You’ll learn about the three uses of the present perfect:
1. Unfinished actions that started in the past and are still continuing
2. Life experiences that happened at an indefinite time
3. Past actions that are important now because they are news or because their results matter in the present.

And best of all you’ll see lots of examples of the present perfect in action in a comedy sketch about a performance review.  This story is fun for everyone and especially for business English students.

Click here to learn about British and American uses of the present perfect.
Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to see more business English videos.

The 3 uses of the present perfect

The present perfect indicates that something happened before now.
Notice we have two different times here. Before – that’s the past – and now – that’s the present.
The present perfect connects the present and the past.
We’ve had a lot of requests for this video.
We’ll show you how to form it and when to use it.
And also when not to use it. You’re going to learn how it’s different from the past.
And we have a story for you, to help you remember it. We’re going to show you how to use it in action.

Hey, I’ve got a meeting with management in five minutes.
It’s my performance review.
Oh yeah.
Have you had yours yet?
Yeah, I had mine yesterday.
I want to do really well. Do you have any tips?
Well yes.
What are they going to ask me?
Well, the first question is always ‘Have you achieved your goals this year?’
Oh great. I think I have. I’ve done really well this year.

We form the present perfect with the verb ‘have’ and the past participle of the main verb. So the main verb here is ‘achieve’ and ‘have’ is an auxiliary or help verb. It helps us form the sentence. ‘Achieve’ is regular but notice what happens if we have an irregular verb. Do, did, done – we use the third part of the verb. So if the main verb is ‘have’ we say ‘have had’!
We form questions by changing the word order. So ‘I have achieved my goals’ becomes ‘Have you achieved your goals?’ To form negatives, add ‘not’. And to form short answers, use ‘have’. When we’re speaking, we don’t normally stress ‘have’ because it’s not the main verb. So we generally contract it and we say I’ve, you’ve, he’s, she’s, and so on.
Perhaps your language has a tense with ‘have’ and the past participle too! If so, you might be thinking, oh this looks the same.
Don’t be fooled! The we way we use the present perfect in English is different.
Yes, so let’s see how it works.

How long have you worked here, Jay?
For a year. I love it.
And have you ever had a performance review before?
No, never.
Excellent. You’re going to do great. So what were your goals this year?
Well one goal was to arrive on time and be punctual.
And have you ever been late?
No. Only when the traffic was bad. And when I lost my car keys.
And when you overslept. Are you sure you want to talk about punctuality?
Maybe not. Oh! But I’ve been taking a course about customer service. I can tell them about that.
Oh. How long have you been doing that?
Since Christmas.
But you haven’t finished it yet?
Oh, well then, you can’t talk about that. That’s no good.
Oh. OK, here’s a good one. I’ve met all my sales targets. In fact, I’ve just won the top sales person award.
What’s wrong with that?
Well, you’ve got to be careful. You don’t want to appear too big-headed.
Big headed?
Yes, you don’t want to sound like you’re boastful or conceited. That’s very bad.
Then what can I do?
Tell them your co-workers have helped you achieve your sales targets.
Yes, it shows you’re a team player.
Oh I get it. Praise the team.
Exactly. Say you couldn’t have done it without them. Management will love that.

I think you’re going to get me in trouble again.
Keep watching and you’ll find out what happens. But let’s look at the present perfect first. There are basically three ways we use the present perfect in English.
They all connect the present and the past, but in slightly different ways and we’ll go through them one by one.
Here’s the first way. We use the present perfect for actions that started in the past that are still continuing now. So we often use it to talk about how long something has continued. We use it like this with the words ;’How long’, ‘for’ and ‘since’.
In many languages, you’d use the present tense to express this idea, but not in English. The present tense would be wrong here. Use the present perfect and it’ll indicate the action is still going on. And if we use the past form instead, it means the action is finished.

How long have you worked here?
For a year. Before this I worked for a software company.
And how long did you work there?
For 5 years.

Notice we can use ‘How long’ to ask about actions that are continuing, or actions that are finished.
‘How long have you…?’ means the action is still continuing. ‘How long did you …?’ means the action is finished.
And we could also use the continuous form of the present perfect here. That works too.
In this context, these questions mean the same thing. In other contexts there’s sometimes a difference and we’ll make another video about that.
So subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it.
OK let’s look at the second use now. It’s different to the first and it’s very common.
We use the present perfect to talk about our experiences – so things that did or didn’t happen to us. We’re not talking about actions that are still continuing here. They’re finished actions that happened in the past, but we use the present perfect because we can still feel the effects of these actions in the present. Notice the time these things happened is vague. We just mean ‘at some time in the past’.
If I ask you ‘Have you ever had a performance review?’ I mean at some time in your life, but it’s not important when. The time is indefinite. You can use the adverbs ever, never, or before here. They all work. Or you can use no adverb. That works too. It’s up to you.
Notice that if the time is definite, we use the past tense, not the present perfect. So what often happens is we use the present perfect to introduce a topic, and then we switch to the past when we start talking about a specific time.
OK, so that was the second use. Let’s see the third one now.
OK. It’s similar to the second one. You’ll see an example in the story.

And then the next question you’ll get is ‘What are your goals for the future?
Well that’s exciting. I’ve just bought a book about time management to help me improve my productivity.
By how much? They’ll want a figure.
OK, I’m going to improve my productivity by 20%!
That’s not good?
Well, the thing is, if you set your goals too high, you might not achieve them.
Good point. Then 10% perhaps?
Mmmm. You’ve got to be realistic.
This office is so busy. Perhaps you should say you’ll maintain your productivity. Keep it at the same level. Do you think you can maintain it?
Well that’s great then. OK, the final thing they’ll ask you is for feedback about your managers.
Oh well. Everyone’s been very nice to me and Kathy’s very supportive.
Tut tut tut.
What’s wrong?
Well, they want to know the truth so they can improve.
But that is the truth.
Yeah, but they want you to think of things they’ve done wrong.
I can’t think of anything.
Ooo. That’s a problem. No creativity.

Oh I see. Creativity is important. Should I make things up?
Has Kathy ever done something you didn’t like?
Well, once I wanted to fly business class and she said it was too expensive.
Well, tell them about that and say you’re upset about it.
But I’m not upset.
They can’t improve if you don’t give them ideas.
Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way before.
You’re giving me such bad advice!
I know.
This story’s not going to end well for me.
We’ll look at the end in a minute, but first let’s look at the last way we use the present perfect.
Here’s the final use for the present perfect. We use it to talk about past actions that have results in the present. So these are finished actions again. But we use the present perfect because they’re important now. It could be because the results of the action are important or it could be because it’s news. In this use, the actions generally happened pretty recently – so not a long time ago – more recently.
Here are the adverbs that you’ll sometimes hear with this use: just, yet and already. And notice that the time is indefinite again. With definite times we use the past tense, not the present perfect. So again, what often happens is we use the present perfect to introduce a topic, and then we switch to the past when we start talking about a specific event.
With this third use, there are some differences in the way Vicki and I use the present perfect.
American and British English differences.
We’ve made another video about them.
I’ll put the link here so you can check it out.
And now it’s time to finish the story.
Before we do, if you’ve enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up.
And share it with a friend!

So are you ready for your performance review now.
Yes, I know exactly what I’m going to tell management.
Excellent. Well, let’s hear it then?
I’m going to tell them I haven’t achieved any of my goals this year, and that the only reason I’ve gotten anything done is because of my co-workers. That I’m not going to improve my productivity and that I’m very upset because I can’t fly business class.
That’s perfect! Well done! Now what’s the time? Do you need to get going?
Oh yes. Thank you very much. Vicki. You’ve been really helpful.
Oh no problem. Good luck!

Click here to learn about British and American uses of the present perfect.
Click here to see more grammar videos.
Click here to see more business English videos.

ielts speaking test

IELTS speaking test video link – see Vicki as a candidate

We don’t have a new video for you today, but we’ll be publishing a new video next Friday.

In the meantime, check out this link to a video made by a friend of ours, where Vicki takes on the role of a candidate in an IELTS speaking test.

Keith has a great website for student’s who are preparing for the IELTS speaking test which you can find here:

And here’s the video he made with Vicki as a the candidate:


english publishing vocabulary

Publishing plans and a new (temporary) schedule

Learn about our publishing plans and our new (temporary) schedule for YouTube English lesson uploads.

We’re excited to announce that we plan to self-publish an e-book for English learners. The writing has started and we’re experimenting with tools we can use to make it available on smartphones, tablets and computers.

To allow time for writing we will be publishing videos every other week. So we’re continuing with our plans to make new YouTube videos, but for a while we’ll be publishing a new video every other Friday instead of every Friday.

We really appreciate all the support and love we receive from our viewers and hope you will keep watching and learning from our videos. We have hundreds of videos on our channels and we hope you’ll explore them.

Some of the English publishing vocabulary that comes up in this video includes:

English publishing vocabulary

When Vicki gets an idea she has to write it down right away.
Hello everyone. I’m Jay.
And I’m Vicki and we’re talking about publishing this week.
And we have an important announcement!
You probably don’t know this but Vicki used to write text books for people who are learning English.
A lot of the books I wrote are very old now.
Which was your first book.
This one. It was published in 1982.
That was long before we had digital publishing.
Books were all made of paper back then. And there was no internet and no Amazon website.
We didn’t have computers in our homes either, so how did you write it?
In long hand. So just writing with a pen and paper.
Didn’t you type it?
Only when I’d finished. I didn’t have a typewriter so I borrowed one to type the manuscript.
The manuscript is the document.
It’s a book before it’s been printed.
And how did you publish it?
Well, I didn’t publish it. I wrote to a publisher and said I’ve got an idea for a book and I sent them a sample.
And they liked it?
No! They said we’re not interested in your idea but they liked my sample and they said we want a book on different topic. Can you write it?
So you got a commission.
Yeah. A commission is when an author gets a request to write a book and they get paid.
And they paid you royalties?
Yes, every time they sold a copy, I got a percentage.
How much?
Not much. I can’t remember. Perhaps 10%? And we didn’t have email back then, so I had to post the manuscript to them.
You sent it by mail?
Yeah, it was a big pile of papers and I went to a shop and made a copy.
Luckily photocopiers had been invented.
And when I had to make changes, I literally cut and pasted the manuscript.
You know how on a computer we have the commands copy and paste. Well, they come from the time when we did it by hand.
But the publishing industry was pretty quick to adopt computers.
So what was the first book you wrote on a computer.
I don’t know. Let’s have a look. Perhaps this one! Hang on. I’ll tell you the date. 1991. I had an Apple Mac and it was great because I could save the manuscript on a disk. It fitted in an envelope so I could post it to my publishers and I didn’t have to spend hours in the photocopy shop. And then email came along a few years later, and also video. I wrote some video courses.
Not YouTube videos because YouTube didn’t exist back then.
No. But I wrote a lot of English courses for Oxford University Press and they used to have a video department.
They published the videos on cassettes like these.
Yeah, and then later DVDS. Videos were very expensive to make back then. We had lots of actors and a big crew. So different people for cameras, sound, lighting ….
One of the reasons we can make videos for YouTube now is because the cost of video equipment has come down.
Yeah, and we’re the crew. You’re my crew!
Cost isn’t a big problem.
Finding the time is our problem.

Publishing Plans

And that brings us to our announcement. Vicki wants to write another book.
This time I want to write an e-book that we’ll publish ourselves – so I’m going to try self-publishing this time.
This project is different to our normal YouTube videos.
The great thing about a book is it can be more structured and organized. So we can design it to help you progress.
We want to make an even more powerful learning tool for everyone who likes Simple English Videos.
It’s a very exciting project but there’s one big problem. I need time to write.
And we want to go on vacation this summer, so time is short.
If only there were 30 hours in a day ….
So we’ve been looking at Vicki’s schedule and looking for ways to make more time.
It’s hard because we want to keep making YouTube videos too.
We feel like we’ve gotten to know many of you and we’ve made a lot of new friends here and lots of you have told us you look forward to our videos every week.
And we really appreciate all your encouragement and support. It’s very inspiring for us and you give me lots of ideas.
Did you go back to sleep?
No, but we do need to make time so here’s the thing. We’re going to make a new video every two weeks instead of every week.
That way we can stay in touch with you AND I’ll have time to write.
And we can carry on making videos. There are lots we want to make.
Yeah. I have a big list.
So that’s our plan. We’re going to publish a new video every other week.
And in between, we hope you’ll watch some of our other videos.
There are hundreds of videos on our channel so you probably haven’t seen them all.
You have no excuse to stop watching and learning!
And then in not too many months Vicki’s new book will be available online as an e-book.
I’ve already started work on it and we’re experimenting together with tools we can use because we want you to able to use it on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
So we’re not going anywhere. We’re working on a great project, and we’ll be making a new video every other week.
So make sure you’ve subscribed to our channel and clicked the notification bell so you don’t miss them.
Does that bell work? Because some viewers have said they haven’t been getting notifications.
YouTube has been making improvements to their notification system. They say it’s better now but it works best if you allow them to send messages to your phone.
So click that notification bell and please share our videos with your friends. Bye-bye now.

American English slang lesson

7 American slang expressions that Brits don’t use.

How good is your American English slang?
In this American English slang lesson you’ll learn 7 American English colloquial expressions that Brits don’t use, and a couple that both Brits and Americans use.

They include:
– for the birds
– John Hancock
– shoot the breeze
– Monday morning quarterback
– carpetbagger
– Joe Blow or the average Joe
– John Doe and Jane Doe.

American English slang and expressions that Brits don’t use

I’m going to have fun today.
He’s going to test me.
And if Vicki does well, she gets a prize.
Ooh, what is it?
Uh uh, you can’t look. You have to wait and see.
Hi, I’m Jay and I’m American.
And I’m Vicki and I’m British.
We made a couple of videos about British slang that Americans don’t use a little while ago.
I’ll put the link here. Lots of you saw them and requested a video on American slang.
So I’ve got some American slang words and colloquial expressions and I’m going to see how many Vicki knows. How do you think you’ll do?
I should be pretty good because I’ve lived with you a long time. But there are still some words that I hear that I don’t know sometimes. So we’ll see.
You can play along with us. OK Vicki, here’s your first one.
For the birds. I think if something has no value then you say it’s for the birds.
If it has no value or it’s ridiculous. Can you give us an example? Use it in a sentence?
Oh, um, OK, uh this old sock has a hole in it. It’s for the birds.
Do you know where the expression comes from?
No, where?
Well, in the days before we had automobiles, horses would travel down the street and leave manure behind them. And guess what would come and eat the manure?
The birds.
Of course. So it’s for the birds.
Something that’s worthless or useless is for the birds. For example, this silly TV show is for the birds. Let’s turn it off. Here’s your next one.
Oh, this is a good one. Um, John Hancock. And it means, I think, your signature. So you might put your John Hancock on a document.
Exactly. But do you know who John Hancock was?
Oh, I think so. I think he was the first person to sign the declaration of independence. So he was the first traitor in America.
Well actually, he was president of the continental congress right here in Philadelphia in 1776. And when the declaration was first printed, he signed his name so large, the legend goes, so that King George III could see it without his spectacles.
So he was the first traitor to commit treason and betray his country.
He was a great American patriot. A John Hancock is an informal way of saying a signature. For example, put your John Hancock here. Here’s your next one.
Shoot the breeze. I know this. Shoot the breeze is when you have a casual conversation with your friends. And you just get together and talk about nothing much.
That’s exactly correct. Good job!
If we shoot the breeze, we have an informal conversation about this and that. Nothing important. For example, let’s have a beer and shoot the breeze for a while.
And, of course, we both say something is a breeze. If something is a breeze, then it’s very easy to do.
Exactly correct as well.
I hope my next question is a breeze.
If something is a breeze, it means it’s very easy to do. For example, it’s hard to cycle up this hill, but coming down will be a breeze.
We use breeze with this meaning in British English too.
Here’s another one for you.
Oh, good one. Ok. Monday-morning quarterback. Well, first of all, a quarterback is a football player – an American football player.
Well, he’s not only a football player, he leads the team. The quarterback is the person who designs all the plays and controls what’s happening from his team’s point of view and throws the ball.
But this is a Monday-morning quarterback. And that’s a person who looks back on an event and they have their own opinion about what should have happened and how things were done wrongly. And I guess its Monday morning because most football games are at the weekend?
College football is on Saturday and professional football is on Sunday.
So if you’re looking at it on Monday morning, then you’re looking back at what’s already happened.
A Monday-morning quarterback is someone who looks back after an event and complains about what other people did. So, for example, after the conference was over, he complained about how it was organized. He’s such a Monday-morning quarterback. Now, do you have the expression backseat driver?
Oh, we do and that’s similar. So in British and American English we’ll talk about a backseat driver. What do they do?
Well, they tell the driver what they should be doing. The back seat driver is really annoying.
Yes, they’re a bit different to a Monday-morning quarterback because they’re telling them while the other person’s driving. But the Monday-morning quarterback gives their advice on what should be done and shouldn’t be done afterwards, don’t they?
Exactly. A backseat driver is an annoying person who interferes and tries to tell you what to do. For example, stop being a backseat drive and let me do my job.
We say back seat driver in British English too.
OK, here’s your next one.
Oooh. Carpetbagger. I’m not exactly sure about this. I think that it’s someone who you can’t trust who might be a kind of crook or thief. And I know that it has some sort of historical background to it. And I think that there were people who had bags made out of carpet. And maybe they were crooks somehow.
I’ll give you a point for the bags made out of carpet. And it is a historical term. It comes from the American Civil War, from 1860 to 1865 when smugglers who were carrying illegal goods that weren’t allowed in the south, or weren’t allowed in the north, and they put them in bags made of carpet or in big carpet rolls that they carried over their shoulders. They were carpetbaggers. But, it has a totally different meaning today. Do you know what that means?
Well, you know a carpetbagger…
Do I?
In recent political history. Hillary Clinton.
Oh yes.
A carpetbagger today is a politician who lives in one place and then moves to another and runs for office. Hillary Clinton grew up and lived in Arkansas. And after Bill Clinton’s presidency was over she moved to New York state and ran for senate.
And they called her a carpetbagger.
Exactly. A carpetbagger is a political candidate who runs for office in a place that they’re not from. The idea is they are not welcome, so it’s a derogatory term. OK, what do you think about this one?
Oh, Joe Blow. Joe Blow is the name that’s given to stand for the average man, an average guy.
Right. We also say, the average Joe.
And it just means the man in the street.
The ordinary guy, that’s right.
OK. Um, in British English we also say Fred Bloggs, or Joe Bloggs and it’s just the name for a sort of Mister average, that we sometimes use.
Joe Blow, or the average Joe, is an ordinary man in the street. For example, what do the new tax cuts mean for the average Joe?
In British English we might say Joe Blogs, and it means much the same thing.
Now, there’s another term on there that I gave you.
Joe… John Doe. John Doe. I associate John Doe with dead bodies in morgues.
Well, that’s sort of how it goes. If the police can’t identify someone, living or dead, they’ll give them the name John Doe or Jane Doe.
John Doe can also mean the average man but it has another meaning too. John Doe or Jane Doe is the name used for a person whose name is a secret or not known. These names are placeholder names in court or in police investigations.
How did I do?
Not bad.
I think I was very good. Do I get the prize?
Yes, you get the prize.
Ok, I get… oh, this is good – two tickets to the comedy show at the Adrienne theater.
Right, we’ll have lots of fun. Hey, if you liked this video, please share it with a friend and give it a thumbs up.
And don’t forget to subscribe. See you soon.

will going to present continuous

Will, going to and the present continuous – 3 common future forms

Do you know how to talk about the future in English?
In this video we compare Do you know how to talk about the future in English?
We look at how we talk about facts and predictions, plans and making decisions and you’ll see lots of examples future forms in action.

Click here to learn some phrases we use to talk about the future.
Click here to learn about some verbs we often use to talk about the future.

Will, going to and the present continuous

We had a request from a viewer for this video.
Moroccan geographer said the most difficult thing about English for him is the future.
He said “I don’t know when to use “will” or “be going to” or the present continuous. It’s awful!”
They’re all common ways to talk about the future.
And they’re tricky because sometimes their uses overlap, and sometimes they don’t.
So we’re going to to look at the three basics – facts and predictions, plans and making decisions.
And we have a story for you so you can see them in action.
Let’s start with facts and predictions.

Welcome. I am Madame Victoire and I will unlock the mysteries of the future.
How much do you charge?
You get three predictions for three hundred dollars.
That’s a lot of money.
Three predictions with 100% accuracy and a money back guarantee.
Oh, so if your predictions are wrong, I get my money back.
Yes. It won’t cost you a penny. But I’m never wrong.
OK. I’ll do it. But here’s the thing. I have a very important job interview tomorrow morning …
Shhh. Let me see… Hmmm, I see black clouds. It’s going to rain tomorrow.
Really? The weather forecast says it’s going to be sunny.
Oh you’re right. The ball was a little dirty. Tomorrow will be sunny.

I don’t trust Madame Victoire.
She says she’s 100% accurate.
We’ll see about that.

Facts and predictions: will and going to

OK, let’s look at some of the things she said.
We often use the verb ‘will’ to state facts about the future and make predictions. Will is a modal verb and the negative is won’t – will – not – won’t.

It won’t cost you a penny.

Sometimes it’s hard to hear ‘will’ when we’re speaking fast because we use contractions: I’ll, you’ll, we’ll, they’ll, he’ll, she’ll and it’ll. It’ll be sunny tomorrow.
But with facts and predictions ‘will’ isn’t the only verb we use. We also use ‘be going to’. It’s the present continuous form of the verb ‘go’ and it’s very common. Notice the pronunciation again. When we’re speaking fast we don’t say going to, we say gonna.
So here’s the question. Is there a difference in meaning with ‘will’ and ‘be going to’?
A lot of the time, there’s no difference. We can say ‘will’ or ‘going to’ and it means the same thing.
A mistake students often make is they use ‘will’ too much. It doesn’t sound natural.
And also there are some situations where we don’t say ‘will’.
If a prediction is based on present evidence, we say ‘going to’ – not will.
We saw an example of that too.

Hmmm, I see black clouds. It’s going to rain tomorrow.

The evidence was the black clouds, so she said ‘It’s gonna rain.’
She saw that rain was on its way.
It would sound odd to say ‘will’ here.
‘Going to’ is more natural because she’s looking at evidence. She can see the rain coming.
Here’s another example. I’m gonna have a problem with that fortune teller.
That’s your prediction?
Yes, and I’m saying ‘gonna’, because I saw signs that she wasn’t very good.
Her crystal ball was dirty.
Exactly, so I’m predicting that she’s going to be a problem.
Then let’s see what happens next.

Am I going to get the job?
Oh dear. Oh dear.
What do you see? Is there a problem?
There’ll be a lot of traffic on the highway tomorrow. How are you getting to that job interview?
I’m walking.
Well don’t take the highway.
I’m not taking the highway. I’m going on foot.
Just as well.

Future plans: going to and the present continuous

We heard another prediction there: There’ll be a lot of traffic on the highway.
But there’s always a lot of traffic on the highway. Anyone could predict that.
True. OK, we heard another future form there.

How are you getting to that job interview?
I’m walking.

We heard the present continuous. We often use this form to talk about future plans and arrangements.
If it’s not clear that we mean the future and not now, we state a time.
How are you getting to your job interview tomorrow?
We use ‘going to’ and the present continuous to talk about future plans.
And again, in lots of situations, you can use either.
So is there a difference in meaning with these forms? We use ‘going to’ to talk about intentions – things we intend to do. And we use the present continuous to talk about arrangements and appointments with other people. But many future events are both intentions and arrangements, so in a lot of cases either form works.
But if the verb is ‘go’, we normally use the present continuous and not ‘be going to’. We heard an example of that.

I’m going on foot.

You could also say ‘I’m going to go on foot.’ It’s grammatically OK, but it doesn’t sound so natural. With the verb ‘go’ we generally use the present continuous.
We’ll say things like I’m going to the shops. I’m going by bus. I’m going home.
Yes, we could say ‘I’m going to go to the shops’ but it sounds repetitive.
We generally avoid it. Use the present continuous with the verb ‘go’ instead.
Are we going to see what happens next in the story?
Yeah, OK.

I need to know about my job interview. What questions are they going to ask me?
Oh this is interesting. Well I never!
Is it good news?
Yes. Do you have shares in Acme Corp?
Well buy some.
I can’t. I just gave you all my money.
That’s a shame. They’re going up tomorrow. Well, that’s it then.
But you haven’t told me about my job interview.
Just let make a note of that. Buy Acme Corp ….
You haven’t answered any of my questions. You’re a fraud.
I am not!
I want my money back.
No. You’ve had three predictions and they’re 100% accurate.
I’ll call the police.
Oh no. No, no. All right. I’ll give you another one.

Decisions: will and going to

She’s a fraud.
But she offered to give you another prediction.
Yeah, but only when I threatened to call the cops.
I’ll call the police.
Oh no. No, no. All right. I’ll give you another one.
Notice she said ‘I’ll give you another one’. There’s a difference between ‘will’ and ‘going to’ when we’re making decisions.
If we’re making a spontaneous decision, we use will, not going to.
A spontaneous decision is a decision we’re making at the time of speaking.
We saw another example of that earlier.
It won’t cost you a penny.
OK. I’ll do it.
Jay said ‘I’ll do it there’ – so he used ‘will’ not ‘going to’.
I made the decision on the spot.
But if we’re talking about a decision we made earlier, we don’t say will.
We say ‘be going to’ or we use the present continuous.

Well don’t take the highway.
I’m not taking the highway. I’m going on foot.
Just as well.

So at the moment we’re making a decision, we use ‘will’.
But after we’ve made the decision it becomes our intention or plan.
And then we use ‘going to’ or the present continuous because the decision’s already made and now it’s a plan.
It’s logical if you think about it.
I think we need a review.
We use ‘be going to’ and ‘will’ to talk about future facts and to make predictions. In most situations we can say ‘will’ or ‘going to’. It doesn’t matter which one.
But if there’s evidence or if there are signs that something is on its way, we generally use ‘be going to’.
We also use ‘be going to’ to talk about future plans. And we use the present continuous to talk about plans as well, especially if we’re talking about arrangements and appointments with other people.
If we’re making a decision at the time of speaking, we say ‘will’. And if we’re talking about a decision that was made in the past, we use ‘going to’.
So those are the key rules we follow with ‘will’, ‘be going to’ and the present continuous.
It’s not so hard, is it?
Just remember not to use ‘will’ all the time because sometimes ‘will’ doesn’t work.
Is that it then?
Yes. Well, we still need to finish the story
Before we do, if you’ve enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel.
And maybe you can share it with a friend who’ll find it useful too.
Let’s finish the story then.

Tell me about my job interview. What’s going to happen?
You don’t need to worry about your job interview.
Thank goodness for that!
In fact they’re going to call you in three seconds to cancel it.
They’ve already hired someone else.

Click here to learn some phrases we use to talk about the future.
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British slang have a butcher's

10 British Slang Expressions

Are you ready to test your British English slang? Learn 10 British slang words and colloquial expressions including:
– skive and bunk off
– tosh
– go spare
– jammy
– fancy someone
– snog
– kerfuffle
– miffed
– be snookered
– have a butcher’s
Watch Vicki quiz Jay on the meanings and play along.

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Click here to see other videos on British and American English

Do you want to learn some English slang?
We’re looking at 10 British slang expressions today.
British ones? But I’m American
Yeah, and I’m British. So, I’m going to test you.
A little while ago I gave Jay a quiz on British slang.
And I won a prize.
He did very well. I’ll put the link here.
And everyone enjoyed it, so we have another 10 words today. I hope to do well again.
Um, but some of the words are more difficult this time.
Uh oh. All right, give me the first one.


Hmm, S-K-I-V-E. I would pronounce that ‘skive’ but,
Yes, that’s right, skive.
I have absolutely no idea what this means.
OK, let me give you an example. Um, she hated school so she skived off a lot.
Ah, so she played hooky. She didn’t go to school.
Yes, in British English we usually say ‘skive’ or ‘skive off’ or ‘bunk off’
Bunk off?
Yes, it’s another slang term for the same thing. Skiving is when you don’t go to school or work when you should. For example, he says
he’s too ill to come to work, but I think he’s skiving.


Tosh. It’s always a funny word when I hear tosh. I think it just means nonsense or rubbish.
You’re quite right. Yes, use it in a sentence.
Um, that offer I received in the mail that promised me 10 percent a year is tosh.
That worked. Tosh means nonsense or rubbish. So, don’t talk tosh means don’t talk nonsense. OK, what does this mean?

Go spare

Go spare. I’m gonna guess here that it means go with the least possible. Use as few of something as necessary.
Oh, good guess. totally wrong.
Ha, what does it mean?
I’ll give you some clues. I’ll give you some examples. Um, I’d go spare if I didn’t have my mobile phone.
Stir crazy, you’d go nuts. You’d go crazy. You’d go insane.
I see.
What does spare have to do with being insane?
Let me give you another context. I forgot to lock the office door last night. Don’t tell Kathy or she’ll go spare.
Ok, I’ve got it.
So it’s like she’ll go… go nuts but in a way that she gets very angry and very worried. So if you go spare, you often lose your temper. For example, Don’t tell mum I skived off school. She’ll go spare.


Jammy. That’s… That could be lots of different things. I know ‘jammies’ I’ve heard you use for pajamas.
oh yes,
But, uh..
or jim-jams.
Right, but jammy? I mean we get ‘in a jam’ in American English meaning we’re in trouble. What’s ‘jammy’?
No, it’s not the same as ‘in a jam.’ We could say that too when we’re in trouble. But a person could be jammy if they have a stroke of
good luck and it was purely down to chance and possibly they didn’t deserve it. We say someone is jammy when something good has happened to them by chance, but they didn’t make much effort. So they didn’t really deserve the good luck.
So when we’re playing miniature golf and you get the ball in the hole, you’re jammy.
You could say to me, ‘you jammy thing.’
You jammy thing.
Yes, and it’s because I have no skills at this game and therefore it was strange that I got the ball in the hole. Um, but on the other
hand, if I win at Scrabble then you couldn’t say ‘you jammy thing’ because I always win at Scrabble because I’m very good at it.
She’s very good at it.
He, he, he, OK, another one.

Fancy someone

Fancy someone. I know what this is. Yeah, I fancy you.
I fancy you too.
When you fancy someone, you like them a lot.
You find them sexually attractive. If you fancy someone, it means you’re attracted to them in a sexual way. so I could say, Mmm, I really
like Jay. I hope he fancies me too. And then hopefully, they’ll ask you on a date and then you never know but you might…


Snog. To snog, I know this one too. it’s to kiss.
That’s right, kiss passionately. If two people snog, they kiss and usually for a length of time. For example, the teacher caught
Jim and Mandy snogging behind the bike sheds.


Kerfuffle. I… I heard this years ago from Vicki and it really confused me. It means something that’s very, very difficult. So, if
something is very complicated, it’s a kerfuffle to do.
Ah, nice try. No. No, it’s when there’s when there’s a lot of noise and activity and commotion and for no good purpose. It, it’s…
There’s lot of disturbance and making a fuss and getting excited about things. So like when Jay’s cooking a meal in the kitchen,
there’s often a lot of kerfuffle. There’s a lot of activity and commotion but nothing much gets done.
I always thought it was because I had so many things happening at once. I had rice here, I had water here, I had pasta here. That’s a
kerfuffle, right?
That is a kind of kerfuffle when you’re in charge. A kerfuffle is when there’s a lot of noise and activity and excitement. And it’s an
unnecessary fuss. We might ask, ‘what’s all the kerfuffle about?’ And it’s like asking ‘what’s all the fuss about?’ Cooking should be a calm and peaceful activity. OK, next one.


Miffed. Ok, well I think this means I’m annoyed because I’ve been snubbed in some way.
That’s quite a good explanation. So can you use it in a sentence?
Yes, I got miffed when somebody stepped in front of me in the line for the bank.
Yes, or in the queue.
In the what?
Somebody stepped front of you…
In the what? In the queue.
In the queue?
So miffed is when you’re a little annoyed by someone’s behavior towards you. For example, ‘I was miffed when he didn’t call me.’


Ok, snookered, or I think you might say snookered. I think it comes from the game of snooker which is a…
No, snooker.
right, ha, I think it means you’ve been cheated.
Ah, in American English snookered means to be cheated. But it has a different meaning in British English.
What’s that?
OK, When you can’t do something that you want to do because of some reason, some obstacle in your way, then you’re snookered. And it
comes from the game of snooker because if a ball’s in the way and you can’t get your ball in the hole, then you’re snookered.
Got it.
OK. So for example, suppose you want to get your clothes cleaned before your job interview tomorrow, but the dry cleaners is
closed. Then you’re snookered.

Have a butcher’s

Have a butcher’s. I know this is cockney rhyming slang but I don’t know what it means. I’ve forgotten. Have a butcher’s.
You’re right. I’ll give you a point for cockney rhyming slang. Cockney rhyming slang comes from the east end of London. And it was
often the language the prisoners in jail would use so that the people who were guarding them wouldn’t understand them. And what you do is
you have a phrase like ‘a butcher’s hook’ and you find a word that rhymes with hook which in this case is… look.
Oh, I see.
And then you use a butcher’s and it means a look. And we should do a video about them all one day ’cause there are lots of them. So, to have a butcher’s is cockney rhyming slang. And it means to have a look. So, can I have a butcher’s means can I have a look.
So, have we finished?
How did I do?
Well, not as well as last time but that’s because I gave you more difficult words.
So, no prize for me this time?
No. Actually, I’m going to win the prize.
What is it?
You can have a butcher’s if you want. It’s…
Dinner for two at the Indian restaurant, again.
We had a nice time there last time.
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See you all next week everyone. Bye-bye.

Click here to see another video on British English slang
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