You Alright?

The following is a guest post.

In England it is very common to ask someone “You ok?” or “You alright?” or simply “Alright?” as a way of greeting them. In Canada the only time this would be asked was if you were just stepping away from some horrible accident, you were sick, you tripped, or your Mom was questioning your outfit selection.

For the last week I have had several people ask “You ok?” and I have been terrified. While I respond with a quickly mumbled “Yah” in the hopes that this will ease their worry about whatever it is they noticed in me, I have had no idea why everyone was assuming I was injured or terrified. As you can see in the above photo I have a pretty hilarious terrified face that comes out in strange, new or freakish situations – of which none of these inquiries were. Also, I have hopes that I would notice if I was doing a face like this.

This all came to a conclusion when at Tesco our cashier said it to a customer ahead of us, and since I could not see anything abnormal about them I knew I had found the perfect opportunity to learn what it meant. While our cashier thought it was pretty entertaining, she was a wonderful source of information and has brought so much comfort into my life.

Moral of this story is that for all travellers to England, do not worry – “You ok?” is simply a greeting. And for all Brits travelling abroad, the Canadians (and maybe Americans) have no idea how to respond to this phrase. Substituting with “How are you doing?” Would be a good plan.

Justine recently moved to the UK from a small Ontario town. She lives in Buckinghamshire where she works as a teacher and spends her spare time exploring the UK. Visit her blog here. Read more of her guest posts here.


  1. Trev says

    Could forsee this being a complication, but even more so when you add-in the regional versions, eg: in parts of Cumbria this could be shortened to “a’rit” although as no one writes it down I’m not 100% sure that’s how you’d spell it.

    Also up here we’ve got “How’s your fettle” which isn’t a mis-heard query about your electric kettle, but means “How you doing” or “How’s your health”. Fettle being a Cumbrian word basically meaning your state of health and overall wellbeing….but we mostly use it to confused Londoners. :)

  2. says

    When I lived in Cumbria a common greeting was ‘ Now then….’ That was all that was needed before a conversation could ensue. Regional variations include “What’s occurring?” In South Wales (Barry Island I think to be more specific)’ ‘ow do’ in Manchester . Parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire a simple ‘appen’ will do the job. A nation divided by the same language.

  3. maria says

    When I lived in England I had the exact same thing happen to me. I was so confused when someone asked me this, I kept wondering if I looked like I wasn’t alright!