AE 348 – Expression: To Top/Cap It All Off

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of Aussie English where I teach you to use TO TOP/CAP IT ALL OFF like a native!

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AE 348 – Expression: To Top/Cap It All Off

Welcome to this expression episode, guys.

It is Saturday morning and I am here on Facebook to do the third live lesson that is going to be hopefully a regular occurrence for all of these expression episodes.

I’m just going to wait for a few of you to show up, to come in to the class.

Hopefully, that some of you are awake. I know it’s an early morning.

I just thought that I would nip things in the bud, get the expression episode done before I have to nick off to the cafe nearby, and go to a lesson with some of my Iranian friends Ali and Somi.

Hopefully, they’re listening or hopefully they view this later.

Give me a thumbs up, guys, if you can hear me OK. Just let me know that the audio is all right.

Ali’s here as usual, though you might have been second there, mate.

I think I saw someone else pop in first.

So, I’m just going to give the episode a quick share, because it helps boost it so more people will see it.

So, if you want to help me out make sure that you give the lesson just a quick share, give it a like, and hopefully it’ll reach more people.

And also, tell me where you guys are from today. Where are you watching from?

Are you guys all in Australia? Are you in the south, in the north, in the east?

Whereabouts are you guys? All right. Let me give a quick share.

Quick. Quick share, quick share.

How’s it going Hashim? I’m from Australia mate. Whereabouts are you from?

Pilar’s in Sydney. You’ve got to come down to Melbourne, Pilar.

Come on. Come on. Come down to Melbourne. Quickly. Quickly. Sure.

Every time I run these lessons I stream it through my phone and it takes up all of the bandwidth for my Internet.

And so, the computer runs incredibly slowly. Okay. So, we’ve given that a share.

Welcome guys thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

Glad to have a bunch of you here, ’cause I know this one isn’t scheduled.

I just kind of jump on when I get the chance. Hey Stefania.

So, let’s just get into it guys.

Today’s expression is going to be “to top it all off” or “to cap it all off”. So, “to top something off”, “to cap something off”.

This one was suggested by Karina.

If you haven’t already, jump over to the Aussie English Virtual Classroom Facebook group and join up.

Every Monday/Tuesday we start talking about expressions that we would like to learn, and we add them into a poll so that you guys can vote on which expression we do.

And this week’s was Karina’s one. So, good job Karina. Good suggestion.

And everyone voted on it and it got to the top of the poll.

So as usual guys, I’m going to run through the different words in this expression.

I’m going to define them. Give you some examples of using them.

I’m going to then go through the expression itself and define that.

I’ll then go through a couple of examples.

We’ll talk a little bit about some pronunciation and connected speech stuff.

(We’ll) do some listening and repeating exercises.

And then, we’ll finish up for the day with some question and answer section.

So, you guys, if you have questions about English, if you have questions about this lesson as we go through it, feel free to ask those at the end of the lesson. OK.

So, “to cap it all off” or “to top it all off”. “To cap something off” or “to top something off”.

Let’s go through the words. So, “to top something”. “To top”, this is to place something on top.

So, if I had a stack of, I don’t know, a stack of books or a stack of cards, if I put something on top, that’s to top that stack.

To top it. I put it on top. So, it’s to add something to the pile, but on the top of the pile.

“To top something. The same thing with “to cap”. Kind of the same idea.

This verb means to put a cap, which is like a lid, a cover, a ceiling of some kind, over the end of something.

So, you might have a tube and you put a cap on the end of it.

And this is the idea that we have with a hat right.

We have the name of a hat that has the brim on it, (it) tends to be “a cap”.

And you’re “capping”, you’re putting it on your head. You’re putting it on the top of your head.

You’re “capping your head off”, I guess, to some degree you’re covering it.

So, that’s what to cap and to top something off or to cap and to top something means.

And we’ll get into “off” in a sec. I’m sure you guys know what the pronoun “it” means.

It’s a gender-neutral pronoun.

And I’m sure you guys know what “all” means. “All” is everything.

It refers to the whole quantity or extent of a particular group or thing. All, everything.

“Off” is a particle or a preposition, right?

And you’ll notice there that if we add it to the ends of verbs it turns it into a phrasal verb.

And we’ve added in “it all” in between the phrasal verb “to top off” or “to cap off”.

To cap it all off, to cap it off, to top it all off, to top it off. Okay?

So, “off” effectively modifies this verb to top or to cap and adds the idea of it being completed or finished.

So, you’re topping off something. It’s kind of like it’s the last thing to go on top of something.

So, I’m topping it off or I’m capping it off. It’s the last thing.

It’s the cap that I’m putting on something to finish it, to seal it. I’m capping it off.

So, that’s why we’re adding in the preposition “off” on the end of those phrasal verbs.

Completion. But literally, the preposition “off” is just the opposite of “on”, right?

So, you’ve got something on and you might take that thing off you might turn something on you might turn something off.

Okay? So, I’m sure you guys know what “off” means.

Most of these words are pretty simple, pretty common.

So, let’s go through the definition of the expressions as a whole, guys.

If you top something off, if you top it all off, this is the idea that a bunch of things have happened, a series of things have happened, and to top it all off, to cap it all off, this final thing has occurred.

Hence it being the thing that’s put on the top to top it all off or it’s the cap that’s been put on the… well, it’s capping the thing off, to sort of finish it, to complete it. Right?

So, it’s kind of like the worst thing that can happen in a series of events or it could be the best thing that’s happened in a series of events.

So, it could be either the best thing or the worst thing. To cap it all off or to top it all off.

So, for example, usually, I would say a series of events happened.

So, X happened today and then X happened today and then to top it all off X happened.

And it’s just this happened, this happened, and then the worst thing is this happened, or, and then the best thing is this happened. OK?

So, we’ll go through some examples so it’s a little more clear for you guys.

But it can be used for bad things. It can be used for good things.

It tends to be the extreme ends of, I guess, happiness and sadness. Right?



All right. So, example number one. Imagine that you were having an awful day.

So, you’re at home, you were cleaning the house, and you noticed that your washing machine where you put all of your clothes, your sheets, your t-shirts, everything like that, to wash in the washing machine.

It’s broken and it started to flood. So, the water’s coming out of the machine.

Obviously, the pipes are blocked. Something’s happened. It’s broken. It’s flooding.

That’s awful. On top of this, your car has broken down.

So, you can’t drive out to go get some parts or to get some help to fix your broken-down washing machines.

So, your washing machine’s broken down and your car’s broken down. OK?

You go outside to get in your car, and this is when you obviously saw that the car had broken down.

And, you realise you’ve forgotten your keys inside.

But then, when you go back to open the door, to top everything off, to top it all off you realise you’ve locked yourself outside.

So, you’ve locked yourself outside. So, the washing machine’s broken.

Your car’s broken down. And to top it all off you’re locked yourself outside of your house.

To cap it all off you lock yourself outside of your house.

So, the worst thing that sort of finishes this series of bad events is what you’re topping it all off with or capping it all off with.

So, that’s example number one.


Example number two. Imagine you’ve gone to a conference. So, I’m a scientist.

I study evolution. I might go to an evolution conference where I get to hear other scientists speak about their projects, about their work, about things that they do in their careers.

So, I’ve gone to a scientific conference.

I get to sit down and listen to a bunch of these talks, to a heap of these different presentations, by different scientists.

So, that’s amazing. Then I get to actually meet some of these scientists afterwards.

So, we have an organised dinner at the conference. We have wine. We have food. It’s all paid for.

And I get to meet some of these scientists, some of these people who are my heroes in the science world. OK?

So, on top of this though, and to cap it all off, it turns out that the conference is free.

It’s absolutely free. I don’t have to pay anything. Right?

So, I get to go to this conference. I get to listen to these amazing scientists. I even get to meet some of them.

And then, to top it all off the conference is free, to cap it all off the conference is free.

So, good thing, good thing, good thing, and then best thing caps it all off. Best thing tops it all off, right?


Example number three. Imagine that I’m having an amazing year. I’ve just finished at med school.

Med school as in I’ve been studying medicine at medicine school to become a doctor.

So, I’ve just graduated. I finished. I did really well.

And maybe on top of this, I got offered a job at Australia’s best hospital.

So, I’m a doctor now. I got offered a job. Things are going great.

On top of that, I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes.

So, I got down on one knee. I got the ring out. I proposed. I said, “Will you marry me?”, and she said yes.

And then, I could say finally to cap everything off, to cap it all off, to top everything off, to top it all off, she’s pregnant, and now we’re going to have kids.

So, we’re starting a family.

So, I graduated medicine school, I got offered an amazing job, I proposed to my girlfriend, and she said yes, and then to cap it all off she’s pregnant and we’re going to have a family.

To top it all off, she’s pregnant and we’re going to have a family.

So, again, guys, basic thing is it could be amazing series of events it could be an awful series of events, but it’s one thing happens, two things happen, and then the third thing is kind of the worst or the best thing that tops everything off, that caps everything off.

So, that’s it guys. Let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise today, guys.

I’m going to combine this with a pronunciation and connected speech exercise.

These are going to be two for one, two birds one stone, right?

So, we’re going to add one word at a time as I go through and say the sentences.

“And to top it all off” and “And to cap it all off”. OK?

And, I want you to pay attention to how these words link together, so the connected speech, my pronunciation and the connected speech.

So, find somewhere quiet or find somewhere away from other people where you guys can speak out loud and practice your pronunciation.

And we’ll go through these sentences. So, have you found somewhere. All right.

So, I’m just going to add one word at a time as I say these sentences, and I want you to say that word after me, or that series of words after me, as I go. OK?

I’m just going to have a quick drink first. I always start losing my voice at about 10 minutes through.

All right. Let’s go.

Listen & Repeat:

And to.
And to top.
And to top it.
And to top it all.
And to top it all off.
And to top it all off.
And to top it all off.
And to top it all off.
And to top it all off.

All right. Now we’ll do the same thing for “And to cap it all off”.

Let’s go.

Listen & Repeat:

And to.
And to cap.
And to cap it.
And to cap it all.
And to cap it all off.
And to cap it all off.
And to cap it all off.
And to cap it all off.
And to cap it all off.

Good job guys. Good job.

So, let’s quickly discuss the connected speech and pronunciation that was happening in those sentences.

OK. So “and to”, “and to”. You’ll notice there that I say “anD” I say the “D” and then I say “to”.

This is me really enunciating well, pronouncing the words well, and separating them. “And to”.

But when I joined them the “D”, the first consonant there that links the two words, disappears and I say, “an- to”. No “D”. “An- to.

“Cap it” and “Top it”. Top it. Top it. Cap it. Cap it. I say “To-” and “Ca-“, and I take the “P” and put it in front of “it”.

“Top it”. “Cap it”. And you’ll notice there that I don’t say “it”. I say “it”. “Top it”. “Cap it”.

So, the vowel sound of “it” kind of gets shortened into a schwa “eh”. “Top it”. “Cap it.

With regards to “it all”, “it all”. When I join these words we now have the “T” with a vowel sound before it and a vowel sound after the “T”.

And so, what do we use? We use the t-flap. So, it’s not going to sound like a “Teh”.

It’s going to sound like a “reh”. So, it sounds like “it all”, “it all”.

It’s very subtle almost like a kind of “D” sound. “it all”, “it all”. OK?

And the last thing… the last thing is “all off”, “all off”. And when we say it quickly it sounds like “all off”. “All off”.

So, I’m actually saying a vowel sound “A–“, and then I’m joining that “L” to the front of the word “off”. “All off”. “All off”.

OK. So, that’s some of the connected speech stuff that was going on, that was happening in those sentences.

To top it all off. To cap it all off.

So, notice how it flows there, guys. Go back. Practice this.

Pay attention to it and your accent is going to really improve when you get a feel for, when you better understand and can use, the connected speech and the pronunciation in English.

So, let’s finish up and then go into a question and answer time, a little section here if you, guys.

Remember, if you want all the bonus content for today’s episode, sign up to the Aussie English Classroom, guys.

I will put a link in here later for it. It’s one dollar for the first month where you get four lessons for just one dollar.

Weekly lessons that go with these expression episodes.

We cover slang, we cover grammar, pronunciation, phrasal verbs, and we also give you, or I give you*, a vocabulary list and listening comprehension questions.

So, there’s… this is all they’re built in to help you learn English faster.

And, if you like studying at home in your own time it’s a really good resource for you guys.

On top of that, I want to quickly mention that I’ve just released the Effortless Phrasal Verb course.

Sign up to the course here

So, this is a phrasal verb course that I’m going to be streaming on Mondays and Thursdays on Facebook.

It’ll be free if you want to come and watch it on Facebook.

However, if you want to sign up to get all the bonus content for this course and learn phrasal verbs effortlessly and to use them naturally like I do as a native speaker, sign up to this course, guys.

I’ll put a link in here as well. There’s two coupon codes left if you want the course for only $50.

Use the coupon code: ONLYFIFTY

Click here to sign up

It’s going to be $97 normally while this course runs. And then afterwards it’ll be bumped up.

It’ll be a bit more expensive. It’d be about $4.50/lesson during it for $97.

But these two spots left for half price effectively. Anyway, there’ll be a link attached.

(I) just wanted to let you know that will be happening on Mondays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. on Facebook.

So, I’m trying to get this done to help you guys learn phrasal verbs.

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