British Stereotypes

There are lots of stereotypes and misconceptions related to the British. Here we reveal which ones are true and which ones are completely made up. You might think that all British people drink excessive amounts of tea to solve their problems, or maybe you have heard that their upper lips are peculiarly stiff, presumably since birth.

Heaven forbid you may have even heard that they have no sense of humour, if so leave this site right now! (Please don’t literally do that…this is an example of our famous dry wit).

So if you are feeling out of place like Sting in New York (Google it), have no fear, as Foreign Students will now attempt to debunk some of the stereotypical traits of the British people.


Misconception One: All British People like to Queue

QueuingQueuing – some say it’s nonsense, others view it as the ‘right thing’ to do. Whether or not it is justified, most cities have thousands of queues that you can’t avoid.

A bank or a bus stop both require a level of courtesy, that is to say members of the public in Britain are brought up in a culture that has a tendency to queue in a range of everyday situations.

Since this is the norm, those who break it - or ‘queue jumpers’- are often frowned upon. Having said this, don’t let this put you off - just learn to love the queue and you’ll fit in perfectly!

Here we have a society, which has evolved to queue, but it isn’t all or nothing and even those native to the country sometimes break the unwritten social laws of the queue, and when they do, this is your opportunity to be a part of the crowd and also mock them!


Misconception Two: All British People Hate other Nationalities

Foreign FlagsBritish people like to think they were once rulers of the world, so some of this quest for global notoriety still lingers up until the present day. However, nowadays most of the comments made about other nations are meant in jest.

You may think that the British hate Americans, Germans and French, in fact this is not true - really the British hate everyone! OK, that was a joke, but you can rest easy knowing that hate is a very strong word for a British person, the average Brit is very fond of friendly rivalry with other nationalities.

This is taking into account that most British people would rather swim the English Channel than face any confrontation with someone; they are as timid as a church mouse (except when at a football match). Britain is a very open society to live in, and you’re much more likely to receive genuine and friendly interest in where you’re from than any form of hostility whatsoever. 

Foreign Students Top Tip:  Judge Britain for yourself. It’s one of Europe’s most multicultural countries, so the Brits aren’t that full of hate after all!

Misconception Three: All British people speak the Queen’s English

Alright Gov'norThe English language is often misconstrued as being only understood as an elite expression of lords and ladies. Why golly gosh, this is absolute utter incongruous pish posh my dear boy!*

In the days of Kings and Queens, the language was certainly more Dickensian, but modern Britain is an eclectic blend of different sounds.

In fact, the true vernacular is refreshingly diverse in its slang (see our slang section), and you’ll probably surprise the person on the street with how good your English is. Like with most things Britain exports, they invent something but are then always outdone by foreigners (see cricket)!

* Translation: “Damn, this is made-up nonsense my friend”

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