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City English – Learn some town and city vocabulary

Where do you live? Is it a city or town?

How would you describe it?

In this English video class, we’re going to learn some useful words related to City English for describing a town or city. And then we’re going to watch a video conversation with these words so you can remember them more easily! Ready to learn?

OK, let’s go!

Level: Pre-Intermediate (A2) to Intermediate (B1)

Watch the video


Here are some useful words that appear in the video. Do you know them?

What’s it like living in X?

We use this question when we want to know about a place. For example:

A: What’s it like living in London?

B: It’s really exciting because there’s so much to see and do.

No way!

We use this expression when we hear something surprising. It’s like saying, “Really?”

A: I just passed my exam!
B: No way!

To come from

The place that you “come from” is the town or city where you were born, or where you mostly lived as a child:

A: Where you from?
B: I’m from Manchester originally.

The pros and cons

The “pros and cons” of something are the good (pros) and bad (cons) things about it: “What are the pros and cons of living in London?”

On the other hand

We use “on the other hand” before we mention something that contrasts with what we said before. For example: “On the one hand I love this city because there’s so much to do; on the other hand, it’s really polluted.”

To spend time

If you “spend” your time doing something during a time period, you do that thing during that time period: “I spent the weekend studying.”

A local

A “local” is someone who lives in the town, city or place that you’re talking about: “Many locals come to this restaurant.”

To go out

If you “go out”, you go to a bar, restaurant, club, cinema… with friends: “I went out with some friends from work last night.”  

An expat

An “expat” is someone who lives and works in another country (not the one they were born in). “This bar is popular with expats.”

To go hiking

If you “go hiking”, you go for a walk in the hills, mountains, countryside…: “We went hiking in the hills.”  

That’s awesome!

This is an American English expression that means, “That’s amazing! / That’s fantastic!”


If you have “space” in your house, you have a room where someone can stay with you: “You can come and stay when you want – there’s lots of space!”

Video questions

You’re going to watch a video with Alf talking about a new city Stavanger (Norway) where he’s living now. Which the video and answer these questions. [answers below]

1. What does Alf say about the weather in general in Stavanger?

2. What does he say about the weather in winter?

3. What does Alf do in the mountains at the weekend?

4. Where does he live in the city?

5. How long does it take him to walk to work?

PS It’s important to watch the video once without stopping. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything – just try to get the gist of what they say (a general understanding of it). This will really help with your listening skills.

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Watching & reading!
Now watch the video and read the script (see below) at the same time. This is great for your listening skills! 

Now talk about this topic with a friend or classmate. Make notes and try to use as much of the new language as you can.

Video script
Helen:  So, tell me, what’s it like living in Stavanger, Norway?

Alf: Well, I have to tell you first, it’s a little bit of a dream, [Oh.] because my family comes from Stavanger, Norway.

Helen: No way!

Alf: Yes! So, this part of it is excellent, but on the other hand, there are a few negative things like, the weather is a bit dark and a bit rainy, it’s very cold in the winter…[OK.] But, there are other things to do.

Helen: Pros and cons.

Alf: Exactly.

Helen:  How do you spend your weekends there?

Alf: So a lot of the weekends we go out with some locals, we go out with some expats, we go to local bars, sometimes we go hiking in the mountains…[Wow.] so there’s fishing, there’s a lot of things to do; we’re never bored.

Helen:  That’s awesome. And do you live…where do you live in the city?

Alf: Yeah, we live in the centre of the city, so we have a small house with a little garden in the front, a little garden in the back. I can go walking to work in only five minutes. I don’t have a car, so this is excellent.

Helen:  That sounds amazing; I’m so glad you’re enjoying your time there!

Alf: Absolutely, come and visit any time you like. I have plenty of space.

Helen: I will! That sounds awesome.

Alf: Good!


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1. What does Alf say about the weather in general in Stavanger? He says that it’s dark and rainy.

2. What does he say about the weather in winter? He says that it’s very cold.

3. What does Alf do in the mountains at the weekend? He goes hiking.

4. Where does he live in the city? He lives in the centre.

5. How long does it take him to walk to work? It takes him five minutes.

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