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8 Generations and How to Speak About Them in English

Understanding the terminology and concepts related to different generations is crucial in today’s world, especially for those who work in English and often speak with British or American clients or colleagues. In English, it has become normal to call a group of people ‘millennials’ or ‘boomers’ – but who are they? What are they like?

Written with love by: My Personal English Coach

Before diving into the topic, it’s important to note that these generational labels are generalisations and should not be conceived as ‘universal’ labels. Each individual is unique, and although generational characteristics can provide some insights, they are not definitive. This article is just a brief summary of the names of each generation from 1886 onwards, why they are called what they are in English, the years they comprise, how to read these dates in English, and what these people are doing in 2023. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Names of Generations and Their Timeframes

The Lost Generation (1883–1900)

  • How to Read the Dates: Eighteen Eighty-Three to Nineteen Hundred
  • Why This Name: The term was popularised by Ernest Hemingway and refers to the generation that came of age during or just following World War I.
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: Stoicism, patriotism
  • The Main Goals: Survival, rebuilding
  • The Challenges Faced: World War I, economic hardships
  • Passionate About: Literature, arts
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: This generation has passed away.
  • Our Role Models: Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein
  • We Were Shaped By: World War I, The Roaring Twenties
  • Love Reading: “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Metropolis,” “The Jazz Singer”

The Greatest Generation (1901–1927)

  • How to Read the Dates: Nineteen Oh One to Nineteen Twenty-Seven
  • Why This Name: Coined by journalist Tom Brokaw, this term refers to those who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II.
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: Duty, sacrifice
  • The Main Goals: National unity, economic recovery
  • The Challenges Faced: The Great Depression, World War II
  • Passionate About: National service, community
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: Most have passed away; a few centenarians may remain.
  • Our Role Models: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • We Were Shaped By: The Great Depression, World War II
  • Love Reading: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway, “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca”

The Silent Generation (1928–1945)

  • How to Read the Dates: Nineteen Twenty-Eight to Nineteen Forty-Five
  • Why This Name: Named for their conformist and civic instincts; this generation was less likely to protest. Unlike the previous generation who had fought for “changing the system,” the Silent Generation was about “working within the system.” They did this by keeping their heads down and working hard, earning themselves the “silent” label.
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: Conformity, traditional family values
  • The Main Goals: Stability, economic growth
  • The Challenges Faced: Post-war adjustment, the Cold War
  • Passionate About: Family, work ethic
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: Mostly retired, some are active in community roles.
  • Our Role Models: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks
  • We Were Shaped By: The Cold War, Civil Rights Movement
  • Love Reading: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Rebel Without a Cause,” “On the Waterfront”

Baby Boomers (1946–1964)

  • How to Read the Dates: Nineteen Forty-Six to Nineteen Sixty-Four
  • Why This Name: Named for the post-WWII baby boom.
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: Optimism, consumerism
  • The Main Goals: Social change, economic prosperity
  • The Challenges Faced: Vietnam War, civil rights movement
  • Passionate About: Social justice, music
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: Many are retired or nearing retirement; some are still in the workforce.
  • Our Role Models: John F. Kennedy, The Beatles, The RollingStones
  • We Were Shaped By: Vietnam War, Moon Landing, 1st Computers
  • Love Reading: “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Star Wars,” “Jaws”

Generation X (1965–1980)

  • How to Read the Dates: Nineteen Sixty-Five to Nineteen Eighty
  • Why This Name: Popularised by Douglas Coupland’s book “Generation X,” the name signifies a generation that couldn’t be defined.
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: Scepticism, individualism
  • The Main Goals: Work-life balance, technological adaptation
  • The Challenges Faced: Economic downturns, the rise of technology
  • Passionate About: Music (big rock fans!), technology (love things with engines!)
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: In leadership roles, active in the workforce, some nearing retirement.
  • Our Role Models: Steve Jobs, Princess Diana
  • We Were Shaped By: Fall of the Berlin Wall, Dot-com Bubble, the raise of Low- Cost Airlines
  • Love Reading: “Generation X” by Douglas Coupland, “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Pulp Fiction,” “The Matrix”

Millennials (1981–1996)

  • How to Read the Dates: Nineteen Eighty-One to Nineteen Ninety-Six
  • Why This Name: Named for coming of age around the turn of the millennium.
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: Equality, diversity, EMOJIS 🌟
  • The Main Goals: Career advancement, social justice, better and more aware parenting style for their children. They removed taboo labels from topics such as: emotional intelligence, sexual abuse ( the #metoo movement), mental health, trauma, coaching
  • The Challenges Faced: Economic instability, High Expectations! For women: impossibly hard beauty standards made them concerned with their physical appearance, many of them experienced eating disorders in the past. For men, the awareness that the masculinity standards should be rewritten by them placed a big burden on their shoulders and made them question the inheritance they got from their parents
  • Passionate About: Social issues, digital media
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: Established in careers, some are in leadership roles, raising families.
  • Our Role Models: Barack Obama, Elon Musk
  • We Were Shaped By: 9/11 Attacks, Financial Crisis of 2008
  • Love Reading: “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Avatar,” “The Dark Knight” “Lord Of The Rings”

Generation Z (1997–2012)

  • How to Read the Dates: Nineteen Ninety-Seven to Twenty Twelve
  • Why This Name: Following the alphabetical naming, after Generation Y (Millennials).
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: Authenticity, digital nativism, I deserve to be who I feel I am, gender inclusivity, the right to love who you want to love.
  • The Main Goals: Environmental sustainability (#Fridaysforthefuture ) , mental health awareness.
  • The Challenges Faced: Political polarisation, mental health crises,
  • Passionate About: Social activism, online communities, the right to disconnect, vintage fashion, the 80’s
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: Entering the workforce, attending university, or finishing school.
  • Our Role Models: Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg
  • We Were Shaped By: Social Media Boom, COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Love Reading: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, “Divergent” series by Veronica Roth
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Black Panther,” “Frozen”

Generation Alpha (2013–2025)

  • How to Read the Dates: Twenty Thirteen to Twenty Twenty-Five
  • Why This Name: As we ran out of letters, the naming sequence has started anew with the Greek alphabet.
  • This Generation’s Values and Beliefs: I am allowed to feel what I feel, no matter what that is and how uncomfortable it makes others. I am aware of my emotions from early childhood. I know some children have a mum and a dad but others have two mums or two dads and that is fine, too. I know parents sometimes get divorced – it happens a lot!
  • The Main Goals: I want to be a YouTube Trainer or a TikTok star. Writing games would also be cool.
  • The Challenges Faced: This generation already bears the emotional stigma of tragedies we are currently living through: The Covid 19 Pandemic, Wars in Ukraine, Middle East, Migrant Crisis in Europe and the US.
  • Passionate About: Animals and technology, but more is going to emerge soon!
  • What They’re Doing in 2023: Most are in school, the oldest are entering their preteen years.
  • Our Role Models: Too early to say! Our parents, atm.
  • We Were Shaped By: Climate Change, Technological Advancements
  • Love Reading: The Gruffalo and books about Animals!
  • Movies We Went to Cinema to Watch: “Moana,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”


Understanding the different generations and how to speak about them in English is not just a linguistic exercise but also a cultural one. It helps us understand the social and historical contexts that have shaped individuals and groups over the years. As of 2023, each generation has its unique challenges and roles in society, and understanding these can foster better communication and collaboration across age groups.

Would you like to know more about any specific section? Feel free to ask!

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  • Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (1991). “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069.”
  • Coupland, D. (1991). “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.”
  • Brokaw, T. (1998). “The Greatest Generation.”

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