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TOEFL Tuesday: Vocabulary – “That’s it!”

The phrase “that’s it!” is extremely common, so it’s important to know that there is more than one meaning to the phrase. In fact, the meaning can change completely, depending on context and emotion.

There are two basic meanings of “it” in the phrase:

  1. “correct”
  2. “all”

But realistically, there are more than two uses. Let’s look at three of the most important uses.

Meaning 1: “That’s correct!”

Imagine I’m trying to remember the name of the actor who plays Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. I don’t know it, but then my friend says “was it Mark Hamill?” Then I would say “that’s it!”

There are a few contexts when we use this. Let’s look at a few:

  1. If somebody says something correct, and we want to agree.
  2. If we remember something we had trouble remembering.
  3. If we want to encourage somebody who is doing something good to continue.

 

Meaning 2: “No more!”

Even though our  first meaning was very positive, this one is very negative. We use it to show we are angry, and we want something to stop. In this case, “it” means “all”: in other words, all of the action happened. There will be no more, because it is all finished.

So, for example, if I am tired of junk mail coming to my email address, maybe I would decide to start a new email account. And when I made that decision, I might say “That’s it! I’m not using this email address any more.” But imagine that in a frustrated voice; the emotion behind the words is key!

 

Meaning 3: “Only that”

In this case “it” has the same general meaning as in number 2 above (“all”), but the usage is very different. This way of saying “that’s it” isn’t angry, and it’s not trying to stop something. It only means that there isn’t any more. We say it at the end of a short list, for example. Answer this question: What do you need to bring with you to your TOEFL? The official answer may be “only a photo ID”—or you could say “a photo ID, and that’s it!”

Of course, to be honest you should bring more on test day! In particular, bring a small, sugary drink and a quick snack. It helps you to stay energized on the test if you get a little bit of food in the middle.

And that’s it for this week’s TOEFL Tuesday! We’re finished already. 🙂

 

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