+0
can you tell me some contexts in which I can use 'spot on'?
is it only British?
1 2 3
Comments  
I think it probably is only BrE, yes.

Financial/office:
'Are those figures ok?'
'They're spot on.'

Linguistic:
'Your analysis of that poem is spot on.'

Social 1:
'So you're saying that's it? You're going to leave me and the kids and shack up with this - what's her name? Rachel?'
'Spot on, sister. Now, who do these CDs belong to...'

Social 2:
'These little pastry things. Where did you say you got them?'
'Marks and Spencer's, I think.'
'Well, they're absolutely spot on.'

The phrase should probably carry a 'warning' flag, though. To my ears, it has an indefinable 'humorous' quality; as if the speaker knows he's using a rather old-fashioned and absurd phrase.

(Old-fashioned phrases are quite fashionable in BrE these days: cf. 'Cripes!', 'Blimey!', 'Splendid!', 'old chap', 'old fruit', etc. We have all seen far too many b&w films from the 40s on wet afternoons in winter.)

MrP
Hi, MrP.!
Does something like "tip-top" belong to the (same) BE vocabulary?
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
MrP - British people are actually going around saying, "Blimey!"?? How about "Bob's your uncle"?
Yes; 'blimey' has become quite fashionable. But only in a certain tone of voice; and it must have inverted commas now.

If someone tells you a startling fact, you look—startled: then you say, after a pause, and perhaps with a slightly upgraded accent, 'Blimey!'

In the old 'Blimey' (Michael Caine), the B was noticeably plosive, the mouth was wide, the chin went down, and the tongue was held forward during the vowel. In the new 'Blimey' (Hugh Grant/John Cleese), the lips are pulled slightly inward, the chin goes up, and the tongue is curled in during the vowel.

As for 'tip-top': I would say that this belongs to that class of neo-Wodehousian expressions that seem to be a staple of faintly humorous office banter these days. I seldom hear it; but I wouldn't be surprised to hear it. Again, it would always be used in inverted commas.

Maybe it's a little like clothing. It seems you can wear anything now, from whatever period, as long as it's done with a certain sense of irony and panache. Similarly, it seems you can use any phrase, from any period, as long as you use inverted commas and adopt a faintly humorous tone.

At least, that's how it seems to me. I'd be interested to know how it seems to other BrEs!

MrP
Thanks for ""tip top""!
It's actually common use in French; I had even thought of giving that name to my late 2 goldfish... Or should it be my 2 late goldfish?
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I'm sorry to hear about your (two late) goldfish, Pieanne!

Tell me about the status of 'super!' in French these days. Is it old-fashioned? ***? normal?

'Super!' isn't very common in BrE now; oddly enough, it doesn't seem quite to have crossed over into 'ironic' acceptability yet. It would sound a little 'sappy' at the moment. Though no doubt its day of rehabilitation will come.

These shared expressions intrigue me.

(Guest, I hope you don't mind if I extend the discussion in this way!)

MrP
Oh well, their death was quick and ... merciful? I didn't even hear them moan, and at least neither cat was responsible for it...

"Super!" ... normal.
My son (9) tends to use "génial!", "(trop) classe!", or even "géant!", there's no reason not to trust him. "cool!" is also very much heard.
Children and teenagers tend to overuse "trop", eg: "it"s too good, too funny, too nice of you" aso aso...
That's about it...
What's "in" in GB?
He's just added: "ça déchire (grave)!", "ça démonte!" Emotion: smile
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more