Learning English
laughing in english : status ok

Laughing In English.

This page helps you understand how jokes work in English, although humour may be similar in your country. Jokes often depend on something unexpected or you feeling happy that the story didn't happen to you.

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Baby Laughing

Fun, Humour, Laughter, and Mirth.

Sharing laughter is an important part of social life, and it probably helps keep you healthy. To hear baby Olivia laughing, and stop her, use the player below.

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Women Laughing

Fun, Humour, Laughter, and Mirth.

Many good jokes can be killed by analysing the language. However, understanding the language will help you to understand jokes, enjoy listening to jokes, and tell jokes confidently.

Jokes often begin with a formal introduction. It isn't part of the joke, but it acts like a marker in conversation that a joke will follow. A few examples are:

There was an Englishman, a German, and an Italian ...
Did you here the one about ...
There was this man in a pub ...
Stop me if you've heard this one ...
What did the noun say to the verb?

Well, what did the noun say to the verb? Don't tell me what to do! In case you didn't realise, that was a joke. Think about what nouns and verbs do in language.

Typical Englishman

Man With A Bowler Hat And An Umbrella.

Jokes often depend on a stereotype: an average person, but with exaggerated characteristics. It's common in every country for people to see their neighbours as stupid, ugly, or mean. So, if a Scotsman begins a joke with There was an Englishman, the listener already expects that the joke will make fun of English characteristics, as the Scots like to imagine them.

The image of being English goes back more than 100 years, and was partly the result of having an Empire followed by two major wars. In reality, England gets a mix of weather and has a mix of people, just like most EU countries. Almost no one dresses like the man in the photo. This winter has seen blue skies and a maximum of 16°C. We're friendly, informal. and welcome visitors. And the food is excellent and varied. However:

A joke has to be about something, such as a husband, a mother-in-law, a foreigner, an animal, or even a recent disaster. It's very important to understand that a joke is a joke: it helps us understand the unexpected and the undeserved. It's not about your personal feelings for anyone, so if you hear a joke about the Greek economy, it doesn't mean that the person telling the joke doesn't like Greek people, doesn't want to work with Greek people, or wouldn't enjoy a holiday in Greece.

London's New RouteMaster Bus

Joke 1.

A schoolboy runs home from school and arrives in the kitchen, breathless. His mother asks him why he's exhausted, as he usually comes home on a bus:

Schoolboy: I ran after the bus, and saved my money.
Mother: Run after a taxi next time - and save more money.

This is a typical international joke. It's humour depends on something sounding possible, but being completely impossible.

Big Dog

Joke 2.

A man takes his very big dog to the vet. He tells the vet that the dog's eyes look unhealthy. The vet picks up the dog and takes a good look at the dog's eyes:

Vet: I'm going to have to put him down.
Man: Why? Just because he can't see well?
Vet: No, because he's too heavy.

This joke depends on a phrase having two meanings. When a vet says he will have to put an animal down he means put it to sleep, permanently or kill it. Not just put it back down on the floor.

Typical Australian

Joke 3.

A Swiss man is visiting Australia, and stops his car near a country bus stop where two locals are waiting:

Swiss Man: Entschuldigung, können Sie Deutsch sprechen?
The two Aussies just stare at him, in complete silence.
Swiss Man: Excusez-moi, parlez vous français?
The two continue to stare, still in complete silence.
Swiss Man: Parlare italiano?
No response.
Swiss Man: ¿Hablan ustedes español?
Still nothing, so the Swiss man drives off, extremely disappointed. The first Aussie turns to the second:
First Aussie: Maybe we should learn a foreign language?
Second Aussie: Why? That guy knew four languages, and it didn't do him any good.

This joke makes perfect sense, and yet is so wrong. It's a good example of the logic being reversed. And, of course, it depends on stereotypes.


Joke 4.

A man goes to the doctor, with his wife. After the doctor has examined him, she asks to see the wife privately:

Doctor: Your husband is very worried and stressed. If you don't do exactly what he wants, he'll die. Every morning, let him stay in bed a little longer. Make him a big breakfast, and do everything to make him happy. Take him to work in the car. Collect him in the evening. Make him a wonderful dinner.
Don't ask him to do any work around the house, and don't talk about your problems. Let him watch football on television, and then be loving and affectionate. Tell him he's a wonderful man. If you do that for a year, he'll recover.
On the way home, the man asks his wife what the doctor said:
Wife: You're going to die.

This joke is about something sad, but the surprise ending makes us laugh. Of course, the man never knew exactly what the doctor said?

Pills And Tablets

Joke 5.

A woman goes to the doctor. After the doctor has examined her, he says:

Doctor: I'm sorry. I have some very bad news. It's serious.
Woman: How long have I got to live?
Doctor: Ten.
Woman: Ten? Ten what? Years? Months?
Doctor: Nine.

Joke 6.

A man goes to an eye doctor. The receptionist asks him why he's here

Man: I keep seeing spots.
Receptionist: Have you ever seen a doctor?
Man: No, just spots.

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