Expression: In A Nutshell

In this episode of Aussie English I teach you how to use the expression “In a nutshell”.

Expression: In A Nutshell

G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today is another expression an episode, and the expression of today is going to be “In a nutshell”, “In a nutshell”.

The definition of “In a nutshell” is in the fewest possible words. So, a very brief explanation or description, to describe something concisely, or to sum something up briefly. So, that’s pretty much all the same way of saying just to give me a short explanation. Give me the details in a nutshell. Tell me in a nutshell.

Um… So, I’ll give you some examples as I always do in these episodes to give you practice listening to me speaking English as well as just context about how and when you would use these kinds of expressions. And “In a nutshell” is one I use all the time, and that I hear all the time when people are asking me or anyone else to describe something briefly or concisely. So, let’s get into it.

So, the first example could be that some kind of big investigation is taking place into a robbery of a bank. So, say a group of men with masks on and with guns, they were armed obviously, they robbed a bank, and the detectives who are following up the investigation with the police are trying to track down the robbers, but they haven’t been able to catch them yet. They’re still trying to find them. They get interviewed by reporters and by journalists on live TV, and they get asked, “Can you give us the facts? Can you tell us what’s happened in a nutshell?” So, can you tell us what’s happened exactly but make it concise, make it brief? Just give us a brief summary.

Another example could be that a couple, so a boyfriend and his girlfriend, or two girlfriends or two boyfriends if you want to be politically correct, they’ve had a huge fight over a lot of different things that have been happening over the last few months. So, it’s been building up over a long period of time, and it’s a complicated situation that’s happened, and it’s finally come to a boiling point where they’ve had a really really big fight. And say, that, you know, if it was a boyfriend and a girlfriend, the girlfriend is going away to chat with her friends about what’s happened. Her friends could say to her, “Look, can you tell us the situation in a nutshell? Could you explain what’s happened in a nutshell? Give us the details of the fight that’s happened with you and your boyfriend, and what’s lead to that fight in a nutshell.” So, it means, can you tell us the main issues, the basic facts, in a brief sort of description about, you know, the fight that’s lead to you guys potentially breaking up. Who knows? So, that’s the second example.

The third one could be that someone went on a holiday to a very far away location. Say somewhere pretty unique, not just, you know, Thailand or something if you’re from America already. Somewhere like Antarctica or Greenland where the majority of people that you will ever meet have never been there and have never been to a place like that. So, that when the person gets back from their trip, and they meet their friends, the first thing their friends are going to say is, you know, “Can you tell me all about what happened on the trip? Give us the details in a nutshell. Tell us about the trip in a nutshell. What was the best part? What was the worst part? What was the climate like? Did you like it? Did you hate it? Tell us about it in a nutshell.” So, that’s the third example.

And the very last example could be that you read and absolutely amazing book that you absolutely love and you’re telling your friends they have to go out and buy this book. They definitely have to read it. It’s going to change their lives. They might ask you, “Well, before we do that can you tell us about the story in a nutshell? Give us a nutshell review of the book. What exactly makes it so good? What’s it about? Why do we need to go and buy it? Tell us about the book in a nutshell.”

So, I’m sure by now you guys get the idea about what the expression “In a nutshell” means. And I guess I should also explain that if you had a picture in your head over a nutshell, literally the shell of a nut, like a macadamia or even a peanut. If you could literally write a review on a piece of paper and then fold that piece of paper up and fit it inside of that nutshell that is the sort of basic idea of it having to be brief, having to be concise, having to be short. It has to be small enough that you could write it down and put it inside of a nutshell, inside of the shell of a nut. So, that’s the basic idea behind the expression at least.

So, we’ll do a little listen and repeat exercise, guys, just so that you can work on your pronunciation. So, just listen and repeat after me.

I told him the story in a nutshell.

You told him the story in a nutshell.

She told him the story in a nutshell.

He told him the story in a nutshell.

We told him the story in a nutshell.

They told him the story in a nutshell.

And I might just give you a little bit of advice here if you’re wanting to practice the pronunciation of this sentence as a native and sound like me. When I say the word “Him” in this example that “H” on the front of “Him” kind of disappears and it becomes”-im”, “-im”. And it kind of bounces off the “D” on the end of the word “Told”. So, “I told’im”, “you told’im”, “She told’im”, “He told’im”. So, if I was to say a sentence really quickly, “They told’im”, “They told’im the story in a nutshell”, “They told’im the story in a nutshell”. So, that’s just another one of those sort of minute changes in pronunciation that natives will use when they speak rapidly. Anyway, all the best guys and chat to you soon!

Note: “Him” is always written as “Him” and never contracted onto words. I’ve done it above in order to show you how it sounds when I say it.