English is a global language that is spoken by millions of people around the world. It is the official language of many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and it is also widely spoken in other countries such as Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. For this reason, learning English can be a valuable skill for anyone who loves to travel and experience new cultures.
In this blog post we will learn common phrases when traveling to America or the UK.
Using English when Traveling Around the World
One of the biggest benefits of learning English for travel and cultural exchange is the ability to communicate with a wide variety of people. English is a lingua franca, just like the Latin language used to be during the time of the Roman Empire. This means that English is used as a common language between people who speak different languages. By learning English, you will be able to communicate with people from all over the world, which can make your travels more enjoyable and rewarding.
When you’re traveling to a new country, it’s important to know some basic phrases in the local language. This will help you communicate with the locals, ask for directions, and make requests at restaurants and hotels.
Travel Phrases in English for USA vs UK
In the United States and United Kingdom, people obviously speak English. However, there are some differences in vocabulary and pronunciation between American and British English.
Here are some common basic travel phrases in English that you can use in both countries:
- Excuse me: “Excuse me” is the best polite way to get someone’s attention in both countries. You can use it to ask for directions, or to ask someone to move out of your way.
- “Do you speak Spanish / French / Hindi / Chinese / Japanese?” This is the best way to ask if someone speaks your native language. You might phrase it as “Excuse me, do you speak [insert your language]?”. But you should be aware that the majority of Americans only speak English, so you might not have much success.
- Hello: “Hello” is a common greeting in both the USA and UK. You can use it to say hello to someone you meet for the first time, or to greet someone you know.
- Goodbye: “Goodbye” is a common way to say goodbye in both countries. You can use it when you’re leaving a place or saying goodbye to someone you’re not going to see again.
- How are you?: This is one of the most common ways to ask someone about their well-being in both countries. You can use it to start a conversation with someone, or to show that you’re interested in their life.
- Please: “Please” is a polite way to ask for something in both countries. For example, you can say “Please can I have a glass of water?” to ask for a glass of water.
- Thank you: “Thank you” is the common way to show gratitude in both countries. You can use it to thank someone for something they’ve done for you, or to express your appreciation for something.
- “Where is Customs?”: When at the airport, you can ask an employee this question to learn where to go for Customs processing to enter the country. Be sure to have your passport ready to show the officer.
- “I am looking for…”: Use this phrase to ask where to find a specific location. It might be your hotel, the baggage claim, or anything else. Most people will be very friendly and helpful.
Here are some common travel phrases in English that are specific to the United States:
- “What’s up?” What’s up is a common way to say hello in the USA. It does not literally mean “What is up?” The phrase is used more as an introduction and a friendly way to say “Hello” to someone.
- “Y’all” – Meaning “You all”, this is a phrase used in the Southern United States, but it is becoming more common across the country. It is commonly used to refer to a group of people, instead of saying “all of you” or “you guys”. Sometimes “y’all” can just refer to one person if the speaker is from the South.
- Can you point me to…?: This is a common way to ask for directions in the USA. You can use it if you’re lost and need help finding your way, or if you’re looking for a specific place.
- Where are you from? This is a common way to ask someone about their origin in the USA. You can use it to learn more about someone’s background, or to make small talk.
- “Take a rain check” is a common expression in the United States. It means to decline an offer or invitation, with the intention of accepting it at a later time. For example, if you are invited to a party or other event but can’t attend, you might say “I’ll take a rain check” to let the host know that you want to come to the party, but can’t make it this time. It can also be used as a polite way to decline the event totally, without actually saying that outright.
- “John Hancock” is an expression you might hear when signing a document, such as a receipt at the airport, or a rental car contract. It refers to a person’s signature, and it is often used in the phrase “put your John Hancock on this.” This means to sign a document, typically a contract that requires a signature in order to be legally binding. The expression comes from the signature of one of America’s Founding Fathers, John Hancock. When he signed the Declaration of Independence, his signature was the largest on the page.
- “Party animal” is a colloquial term that refers to a person who enjoys going to parties and social events, and who is often the life of the party. For example, if someone is known for their outgoing and energetic personality, and always attends every party, they might be described as a “party animal.”
Here are some common travel phrases in English that are specific to the United Kingdom:
- “Are you alright?”- This is a common way to say hello or potentially offer help in the UK. People might say it to you to either say hello, or to offer you assistance if you look lost or confused.
- Pardon? “Pardon?” is a common way to ask someone to repeat what they said in the UK. You can use it if you didn’t understand something someone said, or if you didn’t catch all of their words.
- Cheers: “Cheers” is a common way to say thank you in the UK. It is often also be used as a toast when with friends.
- Mate: “Mate” is a friendly term used in the UK to refer to someone you know well. It’s often used between friends, but can also be used to address a stranger in a casual way.
- Ta: “Ta” is a shortened version of “thanks” in the UK. It’s often used informally, and can be used to say thank you in a casual way.
- Do you have the time?: This is a common way to ask someone for the time in the UK. You can use it if you’re not sure what time it is, or if you need to know the time for a specific event.
- Where’s the nearest toilet?: This would be called a “bathroom” or “restroom” in the USA. In the UK, they specifically refer to the toilet itself as the whole room where you go. You can use it if you need to use the facilities, or if you’re looking for a place to freshen up. In some places, you have to pay a separate fee to use the “toilet”, whereas in America these are more often free when you are a customer.
- “Bob’s your uncle” is a colloquial phrase that is commonly used in the United Kingdom. It is often used as a lighthearted way to say “there you go” or “it’s as simple as that.” For example, if someone is giving instructions on how to do something, and they finish by saying “and Bob’s your uncle,” it means that the instructions are complete and the task should be easy to accomplish.
- “Gobsmacked”: This means to be extremely surprised or shocked. For example, if someone hears some surprising news, they might say “I’m gobsmacked” to express their amazement.
- “Blimey”: This is a slang version of and older English phrase, which was either “God blind me”, or “by my life,” although experts disagree. It is often used to express surprise or amazement. For example, if someone something unexpected, they might say “Blimey, I didn’t expect that!”
- “Brolly” is a shortened version of the word “umbrella,” and it is commonly used in the UK. An umbrella is the device used to protect oneself from rain. For example, if someone is caught in the rain without an umbrella, they might say “I forgot my brolly” to express their regret.
Benefits of Learning English for Travel
One of the benefits of learning English for travel is the ability to access a wide range of information and resources. In many countries, a lot of the information and resources that are available to travelers are written in English. This includes things like maps, guidebooks, restaurant menus, and public transportation signs. By learning English, you will be able to access this information and navigate your way around more easily.
In addition to the practical benefits of learning English for travel, there are also many cultural benefits to be gained from learning the language. By learning English, you will be able to learn about the culture and history of the places you visit, and you will be able to engage with the local people and learn about their way of life. This can be a truly enriching and rewarding experience, and it can help you to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the cultures you encounter on your travels.
Overall, learning English can be a valuable skill for anyone who loves to travel and experience new cultures. It can help you to communicate with a wide range of people, access information and resources, and gain a deeper understanding of the cultures you encounter on your travels. Whether you are planning a trip abroad or just want to learn more about the world around you, learning English can be a rewarding and enriching experience. Comment below or share on Instagram, and tell us where you plan to travel next to use your English skills. Happy travels!