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How to be English: making a cup of tea (Charlie McDonnell)
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On this funny video, Charlie is giving us precise instructions about how to prepare a cup of tea the way British people do. Some other guy made a second part about how to prepare a crumpet.

Charlie is one of my favourite English teenagers and the second most subscribed YouTube person in the UK as of June 2010. See more videos by Charlie here:


Charlie is so- Charlie is so- Charlie is so cool!

Hello, and welcome to another episode of "How to be English". In today mag- My name is Charles and today I’m going to be showing you the ancient English art that is making a cup of tea. Ha ha ha.

Firstly, you will need to get your tea-making equipment. This consists of a kettle, complete with water, a mug, a tea spoon, milk (I prefer semi-skimmed milk), sugar (for those of you with a sweet tooth) and, least but not last, teabags. Now that you have all your equipment, we can get started.
(put this and that away)

First, take your kettle and fill it with water. Then plug the kettle into the plug and boil the water. While the kettle is boiling we can prepare the cup for tea-bagging. Take the mug, remove the spoon, and insert one teabag into the mug. If you wish to have sugar in your tea, insert the sugar at this point. I have a sweet tooth, so I prefer two sugars in my tea. Now the cup is ready for the water, so we will wait for the water to boil.

It’s ready! Take your kettle with boiling water and pour the water into the cup. Then, we stir. Then you take the teabag and you press it against the side of the cup and remove the teabag. Remove the teabag. Aaah.

Now, the tea is ready for the milk. I like my tea quite milky. There!. And once again, stir the tea. You must stir the tea quite a lot to make sure that the sugar is dissolved and that the infusion of the tea leaves combines with the water. And now the tea is ready to drink. Ah, delicious!

Thanks for watching how to be English. See you next time.

Oh, Charlie is so- Charlie is so- Charlie is so cool!
Aah, it tastes like crap, I swear! You sure someone hasn’t pissed in that water? Oh my freaking god!

Note that Charlie is using a very sophisticated and formal vocabulary to explain very simple things. He uses the typical expressions found in written instructions, such as: remove, insert, introduce, dissolve, must, etc. These would be very unusual in spoken language (that is precisely what makes this video sound so funny).

COOL= wonderful, fantastic, great (coll. English, esp. AmE but now getting popular among British young people too)

I’M GOING TO BE SHOWING YOU= I’ll show you (but expressing the idea of "this is how I’ll spend the time")

ANCIENT= /nʃənt/ very very old, maybe going back to centuries

MAKING A CUP OF TEA= when the verb plays the role of a noun in a sentence (by being the subject, object or complement) then we use the –ING form of the verb (not the infinitive with TO, as it was in Old English and is today in many European languages). E.g. "Smoking is bad" (subject: "smoking" verb: "is" complement: "bad")

FIRSTLY= when we introduce the first of several elements, we can either use FIRST or FIRSTLY.

EQUIPMENT= the group of things you need to do or make something

THIS CONSISTS OF...= pay attention to the preposition we use with this verb

KETTLE= a piece of kitchen equipment designed to boil water (or milk). Today, kettles are often electrical appliances. They are plugged in and heat the liquid till it boils. They’re used mostly for boiling water to prepare infusions (tea, camomile, etc)

COMPLETE WITH= including, already having... e.g. We bought a house complete with furniture (=we bought a house with all the furniture included)

MUG= like a tall cup. Something between a cup and a glass (but made of pottery, not glass), so it’s tall but it’s got a handle to hold it (exactly as the one you can see on the video). Very common in modern times for drinking tea or milk, also for white coffee (not so much for black coffee).

TEA SPOON= a small little spoon, usually used for adding sugar to and stirring tea or coffee.

SEMI-SKIMMED MILK= According to how much of the original fat is left in the milk we’ve got three kinds: WHOLE MILK (with all its fat), SEMI-SKIMMED or LOW-FAT MILK (with part of its fat removed), SKIMMED or FAT-FREE MILK (without any fat). We say (SEMI-)SKIM MILK in BrE.

SUGAR= it is pronounced "shoogar"

A SWEET TOOTH= if you say that someone "has a sweet tooth" you mean that they love sugar and sweet things.

LEAST BUT NOT LAST= this is either a mistake or an inversion of the natural order to make it sound funny. The correct expression is "last but not least", and we use it to introduce something that goes at the end of the list of things we’ve mentioned, but not because it is less important than the rest of the things mentioned before. For example: "To plant a tree you need good soil, a spade, some water and, last but not least, a little tree".

TEA-BAG= spelled as two words, with a hyphen or as one word. It is a little bag made of a special fabric which looks like cloth or paper containing tea powder. You put the tea bag into hot water for a while to make tea. Then you can throw the teabag away and drink the water, which is now tea. On the video, Charlie threw the whole teabags inside the mug, but they have a string, with a piece of paper attached to the other end, so that you can remove the teabag by pulling the string by the piece of paper.

WE CAN GET STARTED= we can start

THIS AND THAT= All these things. A bit of everything. Many different things.
- We were just talking about this and that, but nothing important.
- She went to the shopping centre and bought this and that.

PLUG= A fitting on the wall, commonly with two or three metal holes for insertion in a fixed socket, used to connect an electrical appliance to a power supply (where electricity comes from). To plug a machine (or often "to plug in" or "to plug it into something") is to insert the machine into an electrical plug, so that it gets electricity from the power supply. Once a device is plugged in, you can usually SWITCH it ON or OFF to make it work or stop it, for that, you press the switch.

BOIL= heat a liquid till it begins to turn into gas. Water boils at 100 degrees centigrades.

TEA-BAGGING= this term has got a slang meaning which has nothing to do with the usage on this video. On this video, Charlie is creating the word "tea-bagging" as a kind of sport consisting of introducing a tea-bag into the hot water and then taking it out (maybe repeating this motion for several times before removing the bag altogether). So he transforms the action of preparing tea in a kind of sport or fun activity.

REMOVE= to take away from a place.

TWO SUGARS= The word "sugar" is uncountable, but sometimes we can say "sugars" referring to "spoonfuls of sugar" or "sugar lumps" (the little sugar cubes you put into your coffee)

WE WILL WAIT FOR THE WATER TO BOIL= notice this construction with the infinitive with TO:
- I’ll wait for you (I’m waiting for a person or thing)
- I’ll wait for you to phone me (I’m waiting for something a person or thing will do)

POUR= to make a liquid flow from a container into another place

STIR= to move a liquid in circular motions so as to mix the different parts in it

I LIKE THE TEA QUITE MILKY= I like the tea with a lot of milk

THERE!= an expression you use when you do something correctly (in this case, he just put some milk into the tea, nothing to write home about, but he did it correctly)

QUITE A LOT= a lot

TO MAKE SURE THAT...= to be sure that...

COMBINES= to combine is a formal word meaning "to mix" (you can also say "to blend")

CRAP (very coll. English)= excrement (formal English), shit (informal, rude English). We use "crap" (or "shit") also to refer to something which is not good at all, or it’s nonsense or poor quality or simply we don’t like it at all.

SWEAR= To make a solemn promise. To emphasize that what we’re saying is true.

TO PISS (colloquial, rude English)= to urinate (formal), to pee, to have a pee

OH MY FREAKING GOD= The word "freaking" is used in colloquial English (esp. AmE) as an intensive adjective, to emphasize, so this is a more emphatic version of the usual "Oh my god".



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