It’s gonna be wicked!

Wicked means “awesome” or “amazing” or “fantastic” – this is slang (),  and it seems quite American, but actually you do hear it in the UK from time to time. Gonna, of course, is a shortened form of “going to”. 

Tonight’s party is gonna be wicked!

The holiday was wicked! We had the best time of our lives.

It was wicked seeing the athletes at the Olympics. 

Flying a plane is totally wicked. 

Out of the woodwork

What normally comes out of wood, in real life? The answer: bugs/insects (虫子). Normally the insects hide inside the wood – for instance, in a tree – but sometimes they come out. This expression means that something was hidden but then comes out – and like insects – it is not a positive meaning. For example,

When I won the lottery, my friends all started coming out of the woodwork, even if I hadn’t spoken to them in years.

Whenever a crowd starts protesting about something, anyone else who is unhappy comes out of the woodwork too and starts protesting as well.

Critics came out of the woodwork to attack the new film.


I need to crack on!

I need to crack on

You might say this when you have been chatting to your friend for a while and then you want to say, “I need to start doing my work”. It means, “I need to get on and do some work” i.e. because you have just been doing something that was not work e.g. relaxing, chatting, etc. Another way of saying this is, OK, I had better get on with my work.

I need to crack on if I’m going to finish this essay by 5pm tonight.

Don’t you think we had better crack on with the cleaning if we want to have time to relax this afternoon?

I want to crack on with my essays tonight. 

So often we say crack on + with + something but also you can simply say, crack on, without anything after it. This is colloquial, spoken English.

What did you make of London?

What did you make of London?

Asking what did you make of somewhere or something means, “What did you think of it?” – in this example, you are asking for your friend’s opinion of London and asking what he thought about the things he saw. Maybe your friend will reply, Actually, not much, I didn’t enjoy it at all. Consider the following example, which could be from a newspaper (e.g. A headline, 标题):

Times are changing: what do older people make of the latest smart phones?

Times are changing just means that society, people’s attitudes, the culture etc. is changing. So the headline suggests that maybe older people are becoming positive towards the latest phones, even though traditionally they might not be familiar with them and might not like them. 

I didn’t know what to make of it when James started talking about football. Normally he hates it.

The prime minister said he will give £100,000 to the poor. Make of it what you will.

Make of it what you will means “you decide how to interpret this; you think about what this means, because it could be understood in many different ways”. 

Another different meaning of make of it describes how you use opportunities and skills. For example,

University is what you make of it. If you spend all your time having parties, then you won’t learn anything, but if you study, you’ll do well.

Life is what you make of it. Some people don’t work hard and so they aren’t successful. Other people enjoy themselves because they try new things and are confident in themselves.

Phrasal verbs

pan out

Pan out means to happen or develop in a particular way. So the sentence, Let’s wait and see how the day pans out before we decide what to do tonight means, “let’s wait and see what happens today before we decide”; that is, “let’s what and see how the day develops before deciding”. 

I didn’t know how it would all pan out when I bought the ticket to France… I thought it would be a lovely holiday, but it was a disaster.

Things don’t always pan out how you want them to. I started the business but after a year I had to give up because it wasn’t working.

I don’t think this will pan out very well. 

Also, pan out can mean “succeed”. For example, if being a musician doesn’t pan out, then I’ll become a businessman. Or, the new phone didn’t pan out – it failed to gain popularity. 

look into

Look into means to investigate or examine something. For example, I’m looking into buying a new car means I’m considering buying a new car and I’m investigating if it possible. Here are some more examples:

The police are looking into the matterthey are investigating it at the moment.

I’m looking into selling my computer. If I think I can sell it for more than £200, I’ll do it.

The company is looking into opening new branches in a number of different countries.

He’s looking into using the internet to do all his advertising.

Notice that looking into + noun and looking into + verb -ing are both possible structures. For example, in the following sentence a noun is used with looking into: The university is looking into the problem of the lack of computers in the library. But in this sentence, a verb is used in the continuous tense: The university is looking into enlarging the library. This is a very common phrasal verb. 

Idiomatic expressions

Don’t switch off now

Maybe a teacher will say to her students, don’t switch off – this bit is important! She means, don’t go to sleep now – stay awake and think about this. 

That doesn’t cut it

If something cuts it for you, then it is good enough for you, but if something doesn’t cut it, then it is not good enough. For example, email doesn’t cut it if a group of people want to share information – QQ is more convenient. 

Coffee doesn’t really cut it when you haven’t slept for days – I need something stronger to wake me up!

Using printed advertising doesn’t cut it anymore – you need a website.

She said sorry but it didn’t cut if for me, because I didn’t think she meant it. 

Give yourself a pat on the back

This means, “Well done” or “congratulate yourself”. “Patting () your back” means touching your back gently and repeatedly as a way of saying, “that was a good job”.  For instance, a teacher might say,

Give yourself a pat on the back if you got question 4 right, because it was a difficult one.

Give yourself a pat on the back for getting to class today – the weather was really bad so well done.

Colloquial English

I’m getting over a cold

We often say that we are getting over something bad, like an illness, and it means “recovering from” (康复) or “getting better”after something bad. For example, I’m still getting over a nasty cold means “I’m not better yet; I’m still recovering”

 You could hear  conversation like this, in which get over changes to got over because it is in the past tense:

Have you got over your cold yet? Last time I saw you, you were coughing all the time. 

Just about – but I’m not back to normal yet. 

The reply, just about means nearly.

Also when talking about negative experiences, we might say:

Have you got over the shock [] of the car accident?

No, I can’t get it out of my mind – I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. 

Or, has she got over losing her dog yet? means, “has she forgotten about it and stopped being sad about her dog dying?”

However, it would probably be rude to use get over if you are talking about a person dying, because this is something that people are allowed to be sad about, so we wouldn’t expect them to get over it easily.

I’m knackered!

knackered is more of a slang word than the above expressions and it is more informal. If you are knackered, then you are very tired. For example, I just ran all the way home – I’m knackered, or, I don’t want to go to the cinema tonight – I’m knackered cuz I’ve been working all day (notice also that because changes to ‘cuz’ in colloquial speech).

Sometimes knackered can mean break. For example, I knackered the microwave by putting a metal plate in it – there’s no way it will ever work again.