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English humour: very “punny”


Puns are used commonly in Britain as a form of humour. It means making a word play as a joke. For example, the title is a pun on “funny”. Because this lesson is about puns, “pun” is mixed with “funny” to make “punny”. Puns are supposed to be funny. (I didn’t make that up.)


If you have time to read this BBC article, you can learn a lot more:



The photo shows a shop called “Fish & Sip”. This means that the shop sells fish and chips, the very famous British meal. The pun is replacing “chips” with “sip”. “Sip” is a verb and noun which is the action of drinking a little of something, so you would sip tea, which you would have with fish and chips. It is very common to see puns like that on British shops and pubs.


Near the bottom of the BBC piece is a picture that says “Jack the Clipper”. It is a hairdresser’s and the pun is mixing the verb “clip”, which is similar to “cut” and describes the action of cutting hair, with the name of Jack the Ripper, who was a famous criminal here many years ago.


Puns must be very difficult for non-native speakers to understand, but we use them all the time so it is good to know about them, especially if you are coming to Britain. They are not particularly important though, so do not worry if you cannot follow them – British humour is challenging always, even for us British!

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