Are you planning to visit the UK, or to live here? If so, you will need to know about British money. Maybe you watch shows like Downton Abbey or Sherlock and want to understand what they’re saying when they talk about money. In this lesson, I’ll show you modern British currency. I’ll also show you our older money that was used before 1971, explain a little bit about the history of currency in the UK, and give you some related vocabulary. You’ll learn words like pound, shilling, guinea, and florin. You’ll also learn some slang for coins and notes, so you can understand and communicate naturally with locals. Test your understanding by taking the quiz:

If you liked this video, watch my video on about British measurements next:


Hi. I’m Gill at engVid, and today’s lesson we’re looking at British money, the UK currency. Okay? And we’re going to be looking at the present day currency, the notes and coins; and then in the second part of the lesson, we’ll be looking at the older currency, which we had sometime in the past which is a bit different. Okay.

So, just looking briefly at the present day. I’ll be showing you in a minute some actual notes and coins. So, these are the main numbers of notes and coins, the pounds, and the pennies. Okay? And just to explain: The “penny” is the singular, and there are two plural versions: “pennies” and “pence”. So, you can talk about 20 pence, 50 pence, or 50 pennies. Most people say “pence” when they’re giving the figure. 10 pence, five… Five pence, two pence, and then obviously one penny or one p. Sometimes people just say: “P”, just the letter “p”. 50p, 20p. So, we use that as well. Okay, so let’s have a look at some of the actual notes and coins.

Okay, so here are some examples of the notes and the coins. And starting at the top… We don’t have a 50-pound note, unfortunately, but here is a 20-pound note in a nice mauve colour. They all have the Queen’s head on one side, Queen Elizabeth II. On the other side, there’s a portrait of a famous person who’s made some big contribution to the national life. So, we’ve got here Adam Smith, the economist, going back to the 18th century. Okay, so that’s a 20-pound note.

Next one, the 10-pound note. Again, the Queen’s head. Now, there’s a slang term for the 10-pound note, which is a “tenner”, t, e, double-n, e,r, “tenner”, okay. So, turning this one over, we have Charles Darwin, the scientist. Okay. 19th century.

And then moving on to the 5-pound note, and the slang term for this is a “fiver”, f-i-v-e-r, “fiver”. And there’s the Queen again, and on the back we have a woman this time. A token woman, Elizabeth Fry, who was a prison reformer in the early 19th century. Okay, so that’s a fiver. Okay.

And then… Oh, moving down to here, this is… There is a 2-pound coin that’s bigger than this one but the same colour, 2-pound coin. This is a 1-pound coin, and the slang term for that is a “quid”, q-u-i-d. Okay. Then half of a pound is the 50, 50-pence piece. And this has this distinctive edge; little, flat edges to it. Okay. And on the back, this is the back of the coin, Britannia, the sort of female figure who represents Britain, Britannia. Okay. And so that’s 50p.

Moving on to the 20p piece. Okay, the Queen’s head on the front and another design on the back. That also has little, flat edges. Right. We don’t have a 10p, but that’s slightly bigger than these 5ps, and has a circular edge. So these are 5ps, a 2-pence piece or a 2p, and finally, 1p, one pence or one penny. They used to be a half… Half penny, but they… They were taken out of the currency a few years ago because they were so worthless, really. Okay, so that’s the current currency, and let’s just go back now and have a look at a few more slang terms for money.

Okay, so we’ve just looked at the slang terms for the notes: “tenner”, “fiver”, and “quid”. And then there are a few other terms: “ready money” or “readies”, that’s, you know, cash. “Cash” is another useful term. It’s not a slang term, but people say they would like to be paid in cash, or: “Do you have the cash?” So this is the “ready money”, “readies”, rather than paying by credit card, or debit card, or cheque. Okay. “Folding stuff”, that’s the paper notes. It folds up, so it’s called the folding stuff.

There are two terms to do with food: “bread” and “dough”. The dough is what you put in the oven, and the bread is what you take out. “Bread” and “dough”, that’s also a word for money. “Dosh”, “loot”, “lolly”, they’re all sort of quite comical, humorous terms for… For money as well. Okay, so now we’ll move on to look at the older currency.



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