What it means to be #English

Do you know an English person? What are they like? Are they a Gentleman or a Lady? Do they drink tea and eat scones? Do they speak like the Queen?

Maybe they don’t tick all of the boxes above; however they will definitely tick a few.

When I first moved to Malaga, Spain I very much tried to hold on to my culture a little bit even if I did deny it at first. A cup of Earl Grey tea, with milk and “two lumps”, two lumps I hear you cry? Yes, that is what we say instead of two sugars.

The stereotype of the British tea drinker goes back all the way from 17th century and apparently the average UK citizen consumes nearly 2Kg of dry tea each year. We are quite proud of our tea drinking; in fact even those who do not take part in any tea drinking at all will use the expression “as English as a cup of tea” or to describe something that they like they may say “just my cup of tea”, or in opposition “that’s not my cup of tea”.

Don’t forget the scones with the clotted cream and jam and please do not forget your manners.

Manner´s are very important. Standing in a formal queue for example, or keeping the door open for the next person, especially if it was a lady. It´s just common curtsey, frankly.

One thing I noticed when I began teaching and coaching English here in Spain was that it was very normal to say, “Que?” which has the literal translation of “What?”. This is a definite no go in England. If you didn’t understand or didn’t quite catch what the other person said in conversation, then we would simply say, “Sorry?”, “Pardon?” or “Excuse me?”. Saying “What?” to your mother for example can end you up in your room without tea or scones. This quite simply, will not do.

Another thing I realised was that it is extremely normal when in a cafe or a restaurant to say “Yo quiero” which once again literally translates to “I want”. If an English person said “I want” to a waitress or waiter they probably would think we were very rude and had a problem…mentally. In England when you ask for something you may hear us say “Can I have a…” or “I would like a…” and PLEASE! Don´t forget your manners.

So, the next time you are out with an English friend, see if they drink tea and listen to how they ask for things. If they forget their manners, by all means remind them with a clearing of your throat.

Thanks for reading.
Graeme Crann, U24Business

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