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British English Accents – 2. British posh accent (Upper received accent)

posh people having teaHi my chinas! How have you been? Ooops, I shouldn’t really use cockney words this time round because I am going to tell you all about that famous Posh accent today! Please accept my sincerest appologies, darlings. Let’s put the kettle on and shall we begin.

Phewww, I feel better now. May I ask you the first very important question? What does posh mean? The word ‘Posh’ is defined as ‘elegant or stylishly luxurious’ in the dictionary. But in the UK, being posh is much more than just being ‘elegant or luxurious’. Well, then the same question again, how does this ‘poshness’ work and who is posh and who isn’t? According to an article in The Guardian, there are 7 rules to being posh. Let’s have a look at what it says:

  1. There is no one kind of poshness. There are actually seven distinct types: poshness of birth; poshness of wealth; of accent; of education; also, the poshness of excellent taste, as well as the poshness of eccentric and exuberant vulgarity; and, finally, the poshness of assumed superiority. Some of these are inextricably linked, and some quite naturally overlap, but almost no one is possessed of all seven.
  2. As a term of description or abuse, “posh” has an incredibly elastic definition. At one end of the scale you can accuse someone of being posh for owning a dishwasher. At the other extreme you will hear people saying, “The thing is, the Queen isn’t actually posh at all.”
  3. Posh people aren’t usually snobs. They just don’t have very much to resent.
  4. The worst form of snobbery operates entirely within the middle classes. This makes sense, because none of them is properly posh, and yet virtually all of them have dishwashers. If you are truly middle class, all you can see around you are other middle-class people doing it wrong. When you satirise the middle class in literature or on screen, they are both your target and your audience.
  5. A brief or occasional visitor to the upper reaches of Britain’s class system could be forgiven for assuming that all posh people know each other. In fact he could be wholly acquitted. They sort of all do.
  6. Far and away the poshest thing you can do is wilfully mispronounce your surname, as if the basic rules of vowels, consonants and syllables simply didn’t apply to you, and then oblige strangers to follow your lead.
  7. The next-poshest thing you can do is have a freezing bathroom.

Quite interesting, huh? I actually think that what’s interesting about this article is that your accent actually can say more about which class you belong to in the UK. Ah sorry, more accurately, people will have prejudices about you because of your accent.

Posh English is well known as the Queen’s English for the same reason as above, the royal family representing the very top of the upper class. As I mentioned in the previous blog, you will be able to catch what a posh accent is in the film ‘Kings Man’ and compare how different it is to a cockney and chav accent.

Then, now the second important question, how to speak using a posh accent? There are no right answers to this question. However, there a couple of things I have learnt about speaking posh English.

One is that you make sure you pronounce words correctly, especially the ‘t’ sound should be very clear. Second, pronounce words as they should be phonetically, trying not miss out a single phoneme in the word. Third, make vowel sounds longer, like luuhh-v-ly, not just luv-ly. Fourth, learn the Queen’s vocabulary. Try saying ‘I would be enormously delighted to join the class’ instead of saying ‘The class sounds sick’. Finally the fifth, as we all know, is listening, mimicking and practicing a lot!

I will introduce you to a few celebrities who are known to have posh accent so that you can find their interview videos and listen to their accent if you so wish.

Ian Mckellen (Actor) (Aka Dumbledore or Gandalf)


Emma Watson (Actress) (AKA Hermione in Harry Potter)


Hugh Grant (Actor)


Sir David Attenborough (Broadcaster)

David Attenborough

And of course, Queen Elizabeth.


I am really chuffed to give you an idea about different English accents and what they mean. I hope you have had an enormously lovely time with us. (Ha! Look how at how posh I am!). If you would like to learn more on English and accents, please find us at, World Choice Education in Bournemouth.


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