British Phrases to Know When Studying in the UK

Moving from your home country to a new place with new people can seem daunting, especially if you aren’t a native speaker of the language. In addition, countries have many colloquialisms that simply can’t be learnt from a textbook.

The UK is no exception. Many localised phrases are often used amongst friends, so you may need to learn a few to keep up. But don’t worry; they are pretty fun once you get to know them, and quite easy to pick up.

Here’s a few of our favourites to get you started:

“Fancy a cuppa?” or “Fancy a brew?”

Meaning: would you like a cup of tea?

British people are well known for enjoying a cup of tea, so this may be one of the most important phrases to learn while in the UK. While you are at it, perhaps you should get practising making the tea, too!

“Cheeky Nandos”

Meaning: a Nandos treat

You may hear cheeky used quite frequently as it can be used to describe anything that’s a bit of a treat. In particular, Nandos. If you haven’t tried it before, treat yourself to a “cheeky Nandos” with some friends and you’ll be familiar with the phrase in no time.


Meaning: busy

As a student, this may be a frequent phrase you hear. “I’m swamped” means that you are busy or have loads to do.

“Bob’s your uncle”

Meaning: There you go / and that’s it

British people don’t all happen to share an uncle named Bob. This popular phrase is the equivalent to “hey presto” or “et voila”, describing the ease and simplicity of something.

“Let’s have a butcher’s”

Meaning: Let me have a look

Butcher’s hook is known in Cockney rhyming slang to mean “look”, so to “have a butcher’s” means you are taking a look at something. The phrase has now expanded beyond Cockney territory, and is used widely across the UK.

The more time you spend in the UK, the more phrases you will get to know and the better your English (and English slang) will become.


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