Jokes Course Humour | Vocabulary | Pronunciation | Listenings


These English Activities are built around English jokes. The jokes may be old or new; they may be very funny or just amusing. The language of the joke is explored, and you will begin to understand a very important aspect of the English language - humour. Many students of English, be they students of English as a second language or of English as a foreign language, find it very difficult to "get" English jokes. British humour has a strong satirical element aimed at showing the absurdity of everyday life. A lot of English humour depends on cultural knowledge and the themes commonly include the British class system, wit, innuendo, to boost subjects and puns, self-deprecation, sarcasm, and insults. As well as this, English humour is often delivered in a deadpan way or is considered by many to be insensitive. A particular aspect of British English humour is the humour of the macabre, were topics that are usually treated seriously are treated in a very humorous or satirical way.


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.


No matter how good your English grammar and vocabulary may be, if your pronunciation is so bad that nobody can understand a word you say, then your English won't be much good as a means of communication. You might be good at grammar, have a broad vocabulary, and be able to explain all the aspects and tenses of English, but it's not much good if you can't be understood when you speak. I have designed these Activities to help you to improve your pronunciation, as well as other areas of your English.


Reading is the easiest way to take in English. Listening is a much harder skill and one that has to be developed as you study the language. There are lots of speech features that arise when native English speakers speak English. These speech features, such as elision, simplification, intonation, stress, and rhythm, and the way in which speakers may miss out sounds or whole words, are important to understand if you are to be able to listen to and fully understand spoken English. These Britlish Library Activities will help you to develop you listening skills.  

Donate Newest All Categories Top Random Courses IPA Challenges Word Games Popup Lesson


A lot of jokes in English depend for their humour on the way completely different words can sound identical due to the speech features we find in spoken British English. This is one of those jokes. Listen to the joke and then do the exercises so that you can learn about why it is so funny. English humour can be difficult for non-native English speakers. This is why simple English jokes are a very good way of teaching vocabulary, and why I’ve chosen a very simple joke for this lesson. I’m not going to write the joke here as it depends for its humour entirely on a homophone.       

Jokes Course


From The OED on CD-ROM

buttercup (ˈbʌtəkʌp) 

†1.1 A cup for holding butter. Obs. 

   1512 Will E. Grantham (Somerset Ho.) My buttercuppis of silver.

2.2 A name popularly applied to species of Ranunculus bearing yellow cup-shaped flowers, esp. R. bulbosus, R. acris, and R. repens; and usually taken as the English name of the genus.

   [The name, which seems to be first recorded in the course of 18th c., may be regarded as a mixture of the older names for these plants, viz. butterflower and gold-cups or king-cups. In the earlier instances it is always buttercups.] 

   1777 Lightfoot Fl. Scot. (1789) I. 292 Ranunculus bulbosus, Bulbous Crowfoot, or Butter-cups, Anglis; R. acris, Upright Meadow Crowfoot.    1792 Martyn Flora Rust. I. 30 These three Crowfoots are confounded by persons ignorant of Botany under the names of Butter-flowers, Butter-cups, King-Cups, Gold-cups and Gold-knops.    1797 Miller Gard. Dict., It‥is confounded vulgarly with the repens and bulbosus under the name of Butterflower or Butter-cups; under the notion that the yellow colour of butter is owing to these plants.    1803 Wordsw. Small Celandine 51 Wks. (1869) 120 Buttercups, that will be seen, Whether we will see or no.    1817 Rees Cycl. s.v., Ranunculus bulbosus, Bulbous Crow-foot, or Buttercups.    1821 Clare Vill. Minstr. II. 173 Feather-headed grasses‥And yellow buttercup.    1872 Oliver Elem. Bot. ii. §2. 123 Thus, we refer all the species of Buttercup to the genus Ranunculus.

b.2.b Applied (with distinctive epithets) to other plants bearing flowers of similar appearance, water buttercup (Caltha palustris and Ranunculus aquatilis), white buttercups (Parnassia palustris). (Britten and Holland.) 

3.3 attrib. (in late use, referring to the bright golden-yellow colour of the flower). 

   1875 M. E. Braddon Strange World i. 1 In buttercup-time, just when May‥melts into tender June.    1883 Truth 31 May 760/2 Smartly dressed in a short buttercup satin skirt.‥ The boots were of the buttercup shade of the satin skirt.


Understanding another culture's humour can be one of the most challenging things for a student of any language to master. The lessons in this course are all typical English jokes which depend for their humour on word play, puns, and pronunciation. If you understand the humour in these jokes, you will be well on your way to understanding English humour in general.

Responsive image


I’m not going to write the punchline of the joke here, but the tag line is What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? English humour can be difficult for non-native English speakers. This is why simple English jokes are a very good way of teaching vocabulary, and why I’ve chosen a very simple joke for this lesson. You can listen to the joke here and then do the exercises where you can learn about why it is so funny. You will also learn about how word play and the double meaning of words in English are the basis for much of its humour. There are interactive exercises in this lesson that will help you to see why this joke is funny.        

Categories: Humour | Vocabulary | Listenings

Responsive image


There are four homophones in the lesson which have very different spellings but exactly the same sound when spoken. The exercises will help you with your pronunciation skills. English humour can be difficult for non-native English speakers. This is why simple English jokes are a very good way of teaching vocabulary, and why I’ve chosen a very simple joke for this lesson. The jokes goes: A lion walks into a restaurant, sits down and calls the waiter over. The waiter says, Can I take your order, Sir? To which the lion says, I’d like an antelope… steak. The waiter says, Of course, Sir. One antelope steak. But why the pause? The lion says, Because I’m a lion. Watch the video and then do the exercises in the Activator.   

Categories: Humour | Vocabulary | Listenings

Responsive image

Wear the Fox Hat

A lack of understanding of the English that sounds rude can get you into difficulties, as Tatiana and her new husband discovered when she misheard his advice and went off for a day trip to Worcester in the wrong attire. This lesson will help you get to grips with the F word and help you to avoid similar misunderstandings. English humour is a great way to improve your English skills and this lesson will certainly make you chuckle when you get the joke. As with all the Sounds Rude lessons, it is suitable for 18+ students only as it contains language that sounds rude.

Categories: Sounds Rude | Listenings | Humour | Speaking

If you are on a mobile device, or want to open the lesson in a new window, click the button below. The lesson will open in a popup window.

Popup Lesson Donate

Popup Lesson

Use your study record to set lessons as completed, rate them with a 1-5 star rating, record vocabulary from the lesson for future reference, and take notes about the lesson for future reference.

Not Complete!

You have not completed this lesson yet. To complete it, click the Complete Lesson button.

Donate Complete Lesson Completed Lessons

Lesson Rating

You have not rated this lesson.

Donate Rate This All Ratings

Lesson Vocabulary

You have not created any vocabulary items for this lesson yet.

Donate Add New Vocabulary All Vocabulary

Lesson Notes

You have not created any notes for this lesson yet.

Donate Create Notes All Notes

Learn English with the most innovative and engaging English lessons available anywhere on the Internet and all completely free of charge! To personalise your experience in the Britlish Library and to keep track of the lessons you have studied and the vocabulary you have recorded, or the notes you have made about each class, sign up for a free account today.