All About Money!
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Hi there, I’m Hilary and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. This is our 27th podcast, so if you haven’t listened to our other podcasts, please have a listen to those ones as well. Podcast 26 will explain to you how to use Adept English, if you’ve not used it before. The aim of Adept English is to increase your understanding and fluency in spoken English language – and I’m here to supply you with genuine English, as it is spoken in the UK – with lots of explanations and examples to help you. Check out our website at www.adeptenglish.com where you’ll find also that there are transcripts, written versions in PDF files for everything that we release, podcasts included.
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I thought today that I would talk about some more of those slang words and phrases, which you don’t necessarily get taught in a classroom or on an English language course. As ever – hopefully you already know how to use the podcasts – listen to this podcast a number of times – you will probably understand more each time you listen. And for the more difficult parts, look at the transcript to help you as well.
So the topic for today is money. What are commonly used words around money? Some of it reflects our currency, the pound sterling and there are lots of words in common usage for money as well. Note that I’m talking mainly UK currency – there are lots of other words for currency when you’re dealing with US dollars, Canadian dollars, Australian or New Zealand dollars.
Money is the most commonly used term. So it’s used to mean the money in your pocket – as well as the money in your bank. The money in your bank is really just numbers showing on your bank balance. So a bank is an organisation that holds your money. Examples would be HSBC, Barclays, Bank of China, JP Morgan, Credit Agricole, Deutsche Bank etc. – all places where you can put your money. Banks. And your money shows up as numbers on a computer screen or on your bank statement.
Cash is the word you use if you’re talking about the physical money – so actual coins and notes – the money in your pocket. So if somebody says to you, ‘How would you like to pay, sir?’ And then if you say ‘Cash’ – that means paying literally with coins and notes. Teenagers sometimes, when you ask them ‘What would you like for your birthday?’ They might say ‘Cash’!! Just to clarify – a coin is money in metal form – 1p, 2p, 20p etc. in the UK. In much of the world coins come in cents or centimes – so for example one Euro is 100 centimes – and there are various coins of different value, usually not much value. Notes refers to the paper money – money printed on paper – so £5 or £10 etc. They’re usually on paper, but in the UK recently, we’ve started to see polymer £5 notes, made from plastic. Apparently they can go through the washing machine and still be useable! But I’ve been warned, don’t put them through the tumble dryer – they shrink and become tiny, little crumpled things, that you can’t use!
Sometimes we talk in English about ‘the pounds and the pence’. The pounds is obvious – the pence means the pennies – the parts of a pound. So there are 100 pennies in a pound or 100 pence, just like there are 100 cents in a Euro or a dollar. And if you say amounts written down, like 50p, or 20p, then the ‘p’ means the pennies or pence. However, you can’t buy very much for 50p these days – most things cost a £1 at least.
[If you look online for slang words for money, you’ll find lots and lots of words. I read these and think that I’ve never heard of most of them! So don’t bother with those! The slang that you hear most of all for money is ‘dosh’. Somebody might say for example ‘Sorry, I can’t come out this evening, I haven’t got any dosh’. So it’s quite familiar. It is really only a word that you would use to friends or family. To anyone else, you would say money. Other words which you might hear which mean money – and again which are really slang – spondoolie or spondoolies, moolah or wonga. It’s worth knowing these words to understand them, but people would probably not expect you to use them. Spondoolie or spondoolies varies in its spelling – you may even see spondulick. I think it’s a word which hasn’t yet even made it into the dictionary, but is is used quite a lot! It apparently comes from a Greek word, spondulik, which was a kind of sea shell, which the Greeks used as money, before they had coins! Moolah is another one – apparently nobody knows where that word comes from and wonga is similar – it’s thought that wonga could be a Romany word, or it could be Australian English, but again nobody’s sure. If you say wonga in the UK, it means money, but Wonga with a capital W is also the name of company, a business which is disliked by many people. It’s a British organisation, a company which makes loans or lends money to people. The negative with this business in the UK, is that it loans people money, but expects them to pay back at typical rates of interest of 1,500%. Sometimes it charges over 6,000% in interest! It is legal apparently, but many people see it as wrong to charge so much interest and feel that this takes advantage of people who are poor and don’t have any money. It’s a shame – wonga was quite a nice word previously! Interestingly, Wonga the UK business have now got themselves into bad debt. Some might say that’s Karma!
Other money terms you may come across – and these are all slang, or colloquialisms – meaning that you wouldn’t use them in a work context with customers, but it may be OK with family and friends. So the easiest to remember – a five pound note is called a ‘fiver’ and a ten pound note is called a ‘tenner’. So be careful with all of these – if you were working in a shop, you wouldn’t use fiver or tenner when talking to customers say, you’d say ‘five pound note’ or ‘ten pound note’ or even just ‘five’ or ‘ten’ – but again, fiver or tenner would be OK with family and friends. The same with all the following – a pound can be ‘a quid’ – so to your friend, you might say ‘Come on, can I borrow fifteen quid’. Or ‘Mm – I’m not paying twenty five quid for that!’
Other words you might hear – a ton means a hundred or a hundred pounds (£100) – and similarly, again slang if you were talking about someone driving their car at speed and they were ‘doing a ton’ – it would mean driving at 100 miles per hour. Illegal of course – our highest speed limit in the UK is 70 miles an hour.
Another word to mean a thousand pounds this time, is a grand (£1,000). And it is slang again – so in most contexts, if you want to say a thousand pounds, I’d say it like that – but perhaps it’s useful for you to know what people mean when they say ‘ten grand’ or ‘twenty grand’.
And finally an expression, that you would use in the workplace, even though it is a little slang. You may find that this is used in your language too – I think it’s quite common. If you are talking about how much money someone earns in a year – their salary, what they get paid for their work each year, you’d be talking in terms of thousands of pounds. And a quick way to say this is to put a letter k on the end. So if someone earned £40,000 or £30,000, you might say they ‘earn £40k or £30k. The origin of this is fairly easy – in the metric system of measuring, which is the European system, then anything with the word kilo in front of it means 1,000 – a thousand of something. So a kilogramme is a thousand grammes, in weight, a kilometre is a thousand metres in distance etc. And so it’s come into common speech to mean a thousand pounds. We tend to use miles to measure distance and miles per hour to measure speed in the UK – but you might hear someone say ‘I did a 6k’ or ‘I did a 10k’. Usually this means a run or a cycle ride, which is 6km long or 10km long.
OK – that’s quite a lot of information to remember, but all of it is really useful – and I assure you, used every day, all of the time. Listen to the podcast a number of times, until you understand it all. And then listen a few more times – and don’t forget there’s a written version, a PDF file on our website www.adeptenglish.com to help you with any words you find difficult.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day and speak to you again soon. Goodbye.