Expression: To Have a Crack at Something

In this episode of Aussie English I teach you guys how to use the expressions “To have a crack at something”, “To give something a crack” and “To take a crack at something”.

Expression: To have a crack at something

Hey guys. Welcome to this episode. I hope you guys have all been well. I just wanted to say hey to everyone, thanks for supporting me, thanks for listening to this podcast, I really appreciate everyone’s support and everyone’s interest. I’m really really glad to be able to produce a podcast that is able to help you guys improve you English, whether it’s just your listening comprehension, your understanding of expressions and phrases that we use as natives. And yeah, if you have any suggestions or you have any other sort of things you’re interested in hearing about, about Australia, about the world, about whatever it is that you would like different podcasts to be themed around then definitely jump on the Facebook page. Come over, chat to me, say hello to me, I’m always reading these comments and trying to engage with you guys as the Aussie English community. And, yeah, just come and practice your English. You’re always welcome to come and chat to me on there. Anyway, we can dive straight into this episode today.

Today I want to go over the expression “To have a crack.”, “To have a crack at something”. So, what does “To have a crack” or “To have a crack at something” mean? It means to have a try at something although you’re unsure if you’ll succeed. So, more generally it’s to have a go, to have a shot, to have a turn, to have a try. So, I might also add that you can use this phrase in different forms with different verbs such as “To give” and “To take”. So, you might also hear “To give something a crack” or “To take a crack at something” and not just “To have a crack at something”. So, this is just another way of saying to have a shot at something, to give something a shot or to take a shot at something.

So, what is the definition of the word “Crack”? Interestingly, in this phrase, I guess, it has nothing to do with the literal sense of the word “Crack”, but the literal sense of the word, of “A crack”, it’s multiple things. The first being a line on the surface of something along which it’s split without breaking apart. So, you can see a crack in the concrete on the ground as you’re walking along the pavement, or you could see a crack in the wall of the building, a crack in a tile in your bathroom. And then the second sort of common definition of the word “Crack” is in terms of it being a sound, like a sudden sharp explosive noise or sound. So, if someone let off, as is in the name, a firecracker and you hear a bang. It’s a sharp crack, you know, bang, crack.

So, the origin of this phrase I tried to look up but I couldn’t find anything really about where it had originated from. Someone online suggested it could originate from baseball, the game of baseball where the sound of hitting a ball with the baseball bat is a crack. And so, I think he suggested that by saying to someone “Do you want to have a crack?” it’s telling them, or suggesting to them, that they can have a hit or a try or do you want to have a hit or a try of [hitting] the ball. So, “Do you want to try and give it a crack?” Do you want to try and hit the ball with the bat?

Another way that I thought about it was say that someone’s bought a whip, because a whip crack or the crack of a whip is the sound that a whip makes when you crack it. So, it’s obviously a verb there as well. If you crack a whip it does that [whip sound] sound. So, obviously this phrase may have come about when people ask someone if they wanted to try using that whip. “Do you want to give it a crack” literally means do you want to use the whip and get it to make that crack sound. So, “Have a crack”, “Give it a crack”, “Take a crack”. It could be that, it could absolutely not be that. I’m not sure. But that was another way that I was thinking about it.

So some examples of how I would use the phrase “To have a crack at something”, and again you could say “To give something a crack” or “To take a crack at something”.

Number one, I got the idea for this expression from a video I saw recently, and I posted it on the Aussie English Facebook page where a man gets swooped multiple times by a magpie during nesting season. And the word “Swoop”, the verb “To swoop”, “To be swooped” is when a bird or some kind of flying animal dives at you and tries to attack you or scare you away. So, in this video that I’ll link in this episode the magpie swoops him something like 13 times while he’s riding his bike down the road, and he’s holding the camera so that you can see his face and his head as he’s getting swooped by the magpie. And towards the end of the bombardment of swoops he says something along the lines of “This guy’s really giving it a crack” or “This guy’s really having a crack”. And what does this mean? It effectively means that this guy, the magpie, is really having a shot at attacking him. So, “He’s really having a crack” at attacking him. He’s really having a go, he’s really trying to attack him, he’s trying to hurt him. “He’s really having a crack”.

Another example could be that you want to play a game on your Playstation 4, so your PS4, Playstation 4, your game console, and someone’s come over with a new game. You want to have a go on it but your mate is showing the game, and it’s a one-player game, so only one person can play at a time. So, you can’t play at the same time as your mate. He keeps dying in the game and taking the next turn. So, he dies, he has another turn. He dies, he has another turn. Usually, you would probably give the controller, you would give the turn to your friend, and you keep switching every time someone dies. So, if that’s not happening you could say to your friend as you’re getting impatient that he’s hogging the game that he’s just playing himself and not letting you play, you could say, “Hey dude, can I’ve a crack?”, “Can you give me a crack”, “Can I take a crack at the game now?”, “Can I’ve a crack”. So, can I have a turn, can I have a go, can I have a shot?

Example number 3, maybe a friend has bought a new car, and he’s driven over to your house, he wants to show you the car, he wants to take you for a drive. So, he comes to your house, knocks on the door, you come out, you see the car, you get in the car, and you guys go for a drive, but your friend’s driving obviously, as it’s his car. So, he keeps telling you about how good the car is, how well it handles, you know, the sensation of what it’s like to drive, how it responds, and keeps telling you you’ll get a go eventually but it just doesn’t really seem to be happening and the guy’s not, you know, pulling over and letting you in the driver’s seat. So, if this was happening you could say, “Ok ok ok, dude, dude, dude. I understand, I want to have a go, give us a crack. Give me a crack already. I want to have a crack. Can I take a crack at driving the car?”

Example number four, say your son is competing in a surfing competition this weekend, say at Bell’s Beach, which is one of the most famous surfing competition beaches in the world. And this is down near where I live in the south of Victoria. So, on the coast, Bell’s Beach. He’s up against the country’s best young surfers, your son, he paddles out, he catches a few really good waves but unfortunately the rest of the competition is just too good and they beat him on points. So you could say that “He gave it a really good crack”. So, he tried really hard, he gave it a really good shot, he had a good go, but he ended up losing. So, he didn’t win in the end but “He gave it a really good crack. He had a good crack at the competition but lost.”

So, that’s really all there is to it guys. That’s the phrase to have a crack at something, to give something a crack or to take a crack at something. And it just means to try something without necessarily being sure that you’ll succeed or wanting to have a go, have a shot, have a turn or have a try at something.

So, as usual, we can go through some listen and repeat exercises guys, and I’ll keep this one simple today where I’ll just repeat the phrases “Give it a crack”, “Have a crack”, and “Take a crack” four times [each]. So, listen and repeat after me guys.


Listen and repeat:

Give it a crack x 4

Have a crack x 4

Take a crack x 4


So, that’s it guys. I hope you enjoyed the episode. Remember, come over to the Facebook page. Engage with the community. IF you want to practice your English comment on things, ask questions, share things that you’re passionate about or interested in knowing more about, or things you see and do related to Australia or related to anything else. I’m always willing to chat to you guys if and when I have time. Don’t be a stranger. Come over and say hello, and I’ll chat to you next time guys. All the best.

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