You know the drill. We’ll look at a couple of conversational idioms that can come in handy in every day conversation, and we’ll not pick any particular theme as such. But as always, a few quick exercises and tips for practicing and internalising these idioms so as to make them a part of your active vocabulary.
Know the Drill
1. “What do you mean you don’t know what to do? You’ve been in this job for over a month now, I’m sure know the drill!”
2. “There is no mystery around how to be healthy. We all know the drill: eat right, exercise regularly, and get a good night’s sleep.”
3. “It’s the festival season now, so you know the drill: lots of shopping, lots of holidays, and endless eating!”
4. “It’s not her fault! She’s new here, and she did’t know the drill.”
Meanings and Usage
The word ‘drill,’ used in the sense of a set routine, comes from the military. Soldiers have regular drills, for example, in which they perform a fix set of exercises in a repetitive manner. The word is used outside of the military context too, especially in the context of safety and evacuation procedures. Thus, many educational institutions, hotels, and businesses conduct ‘fire drills,’ where everyone is required to practice a fixed routine for how to evacuate safely in case of a fire. You could also talk about the importance of being responsible and safe being drilled into a child by his parents.
The word is also used in the sense of a correct or recognized procedure to do something. So when you expect someone to know the drill, you expect that they know the correct procedure—they know what to do, how to do it, in what order, and so on.
1. Write up a quick ‘drill’ for some routine activities such as exam preparation, job interviews, and so on.
2. Rewrite the following sentence to use the expression ‘know the drill’. “To maintain your clothes well, you should wash them regularly, avoid drying them in direct sunlight, and wash off stains as soon as possible.”
3. “What things have been drilled into you since childhood? Can you make a quick list and see if you can define why they are justified?
Way to go
1. “I heard you topped the class! Way to go!”
2. “Stop jumping around on the couch! It might be—way to go, dude! You just broke the brand new couch.”
3. “You haggled with the shopkeeper so well you got the price down by more than fifty percent! Way to go!”
Meanings and Usage
As you can tell from the example above, when you tell someone ‘way to go,’ you are expressing admiration and encouragement, particularly in response to a specific achievement. In terms of usage, the expression is always used as a reaction: when you observe someone excelling at something, or doing something well, you can say ‘way to go’ as encouragement.
But you can also use the idiom sarcastically to express annoyance or exasperation. The second example above uses in the idiom in this negative sense. If someone is behaving stupidly, irresponsibly, or recklessly in some way, you can express your disapproval by using the expression ‘way to go’ to actually mean pretty much the opposite of ‘way to go.’ Here is a quick example: “That baby elephant was coming right towards us out of curiosity, and you scared it off by pointing your phone camera at it! Way to go; you just ruined our jungle safari.”
Another variation of this idiom involves dropping the ‘go’ part, and substituting it with a specific verb relevant in that context. In our jungle safari example above, for example, instead of saying ‘way to go,’ you could say, “way to ruin the jungle safari.’ Similarly: “Why were you so mean to her? Way to ruin a great friendship, dude!”
1. Next time you are watching some sport and rooting for one particular player, use the expression ‘way to go’ to cheer them whenever they do something well.
2. How many other expressions can you think of that are synonymous with ‘way to go?’ Make a quick list.
3. And of course, for this week, make this your preferred expression for giving compliments and expressing admiration, and use the expression at every possible opportunity.