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(I'm South Korean, so non-native question here.)

I saw the sentence 'that looks about it'.

Does it mean that something is seemingly almost done?

I searched this expression on google but I couldn't find the exactly same pattern of the expression but I found at the Cambridge dictionary:

that's (about) it : there's no more to be said or done

So I guess the sentence 'that looks about it' means something like 'I think it's almost done'.

Is my interpretation right? How often is this expression used?

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  • 1
    'that looks about it' doesn't sound like a proper English phrase (though it would help a lot if we could see the context).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 4:10
  • 4
    @HotLicks I've heard this before. It just means "that appears to be about it," i.e. "it looks like that's about it."
    – alphabet
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 5:06
  • It is important that the stress falls on the final word. Otherwise it might not be understood, even by a native Brit.
    – TonyK
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 11:59

3 Answers 3

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As a Brit, "that looks about it" means 'it appears to be a reasonable approximation of being correct, or finished'.

"It" is some indefinite object or task, or state of completion.

It's very colloquial, so there is nuance in the precise meaning, depending on context, and if spoken, tone of voice. You need to use context to decide whether 'correct' or 'finished' is the required result.

From your quote

that's (about) it : there's no more to be said or done

This has the implication of 'finished'.
That looks to be about it. I can think of nothing more to add.

I've just finished my maths homework. Did I get it right?
That looks about it. [I didn't check really carefully but it seems to be OK.]

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  • Understatement should be in there somewhere, then it would look about it.
    – 7caifyi
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 12:17
  • Yes I'm asking about the latter case, that's about finished. I'm an English translator so I wanted to know if this phrase is actually used before using this in work.
    – Subin Kim
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 13:42
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    There's a difference in emphasis which we cannot gauge from the short snippet provided, from the emphatic, 'That's it!' all the way down to the might-be-ok, 'That looks to be about it.'
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 14:26
  • Thank you all I appreciate it
    – Subin Kim
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 17:01
  • You can speak those same words triumphantly (with a rising note) or tentatively (flatly) and it would mean different things. A good writer would know how form the right context in prose. I find this interesting. Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 4:36
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I use the phrase often and also hear it quite frequently, in the sense you're quoting. I am English, so I checked Merriam-Webster for an American perspective and found this definition and example, which suggest it's used the same way there:

: there is nothing else to do
"Is there anything else?" "No, that's about it/all."

I would expect to hear it in both casual and polite-but-informal situations; e.g. my boss might say "I think that's about it, good work chaps" to wrap up a regular meeting. In a more formal context I would expect different language to be used, such as "I don't believe there is any other business for today".

I would also like to point out that there is a completely different interpretation of the phrase: if a creature looks about itself that's a somewhat dated way of saying that it looks around (slightly emphasising the idea that it is checking its surroundings). If you said 'it looks about it' rather than 'it looks about itself' in that context it would sound incorrect, but it's the sort of mistake a native speaker might make.

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  • Thank you It helped me a lot! :)
    – Subin Kim
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 16:59
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Also as a Brit, I feel it depends on the context and it could mean:

That looks about right (It looks more-or-less correct) That looks like everything (it looks like all the objects have been taken care of) That looks about finished (the task appears to be finished/basically finished)

I'm sure there are more possibilities too.

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    Yes I'm asking about the latter case, that's about finished. I'm an English translator so I wanted to know if this phrase is actually used before using this in work.
    – Subin Kim
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 13:43
  • Thank you for your answer
    – Subin Kim
    Commented Nov 9, 2023 at 17:01

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