know (one's) ABCs

know (one's) ABCs

1. Literally, to know the letters of the alphabet. Wow, she's only two and a half, and she already knows her ABCs? That's very impressive! My grandfather never knew his ABCs, but he was still successful in life.
2. To know the essential or basic facts (about something). In this usage, "the" is sometimes used instead of "one's." I know you're new to a lot of this, so just stick with Sarah here until you know your ABCs. Look, I know this stuff isn't terribly exciting, but you need to know the ABCs of chemistry if you're going to become a doctor.
See also: ABC, know

know one's ABCs

Fig. to know the alphabet; to know the most basic things (about something). Bill can't do it. He doesn't even know his ABCs. You can't expect to write a letter when you don't even know your ABCs.
See also: ABC, know