Down

In this lesson, we will discuss the word 'down' and discover this word in-depth since it functions in many different structures.

How to Use "Down" in English?

'Down' performs many functions in English. It can be a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, and a preposition. In this lesson, we will discuss how to learn and use it.

Functions of 'Down'

'Down' as an Adverb

As stated above, 'down' can be an adverb. Below, we are going to see the kinds of adverbs it can be:

Use

'Down' as an Adverb of Movement and Direction

'Down' can be an adverb of movement and direction. Look below for more clarification:

  • When something is moving to a lower position than something else, we use 'down' to talk about it:

I wish someone came down from the sky and explained what is actually going on in the world.

Is this elevator going down?

  • When we want to show that we are moving from above onto a surface, we use 'down':

Why don't you lie down on the sofa and rest a bit?

Just as I sat down to read a book, the guests arrived.

  • When something changes to a lower condition, a simpler state or a smaller amount, we use 'down' to talk about it:

The rate of murder is fortunately going down in this country.

Turn down the radio.

  • When we want to indicate that something/somewhere is far from something else, we use 'down':

The Barney's is down by the sea.

They are going down to buy some books.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'down' is used as an adverbial here, it mainly comes after the main verb to show the direction and the movement. Study the following examples:

Lizzie, mom wants you to go down and explain everything to her.

Lying down on the couch, he closed his eyes for just a few seconds.

'Down' as a Particle

As you might know, sometimes adverbs can be particles and join a verb to make a specific, idiomatic meaning. Below, we are going to see the different meanings it can have with different verbs:

  • If we cut, knock or burn something down, it is completely destroyed. Verbs like 'cut', 'knock' and 'burn' are mainly used:

He cut down his victims and took out their internal organs.

The stable burned down decades ago.

  • When we want to indicate that we will write something on paper, we use 'down with verbs like 'put', 'take', 'get', and 'write':

I want you to write down all the names the professor mentions during his lecture.

She's put me down for one ticket.

Here, the object has been inserted between the verb and the particle.

  • When something has been passed from an older person to a younger one, we use 'down' with verbs like 'pass', 'hand', and 'come':

This book has been handed down from your great grandmother.

These legends have passed down to us from ancient times.

Position in a Sentence

Since this combination forms phrasal verbs, we mainly put verbs after subjects. However, note that we can sometimes separate these by putting the object of the sentence between them whereas other times it is not possible to do so. Look:

Did you write it all down?

Here, the object must be put between the verb and the adverb otherwise it makes no sense.

These jewels have been passed down from your great grandmother.

'Down' as an Adjective

'Down' can also be used as an adjective. Below, we will analyze its meanings and how it functions and different types of adjectives:

Use

'Down' as a Predicative Adjective

  • When someone is unhappy, we use 'down' to show their unhappy state:

Philip seems down today.

I don't know why but I've been feeling a bit down lately.

  • When something is not working properly, we use 'down' to talk about it:

Unfortunately, all systems are down this morning.

The engine has shut down.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'down' only functions as a predicative adjective, it comes after the verb. Take a look at the following examples for more clarification:

All computers have been shut down.

Don't you think Anna has been feeling down lately?

'Down' as a Preposition

As stated above, 'down' can also be a preposition. Below, we are going to analyze the different types of 'down' as a preposition:

Use

'Down' as a Preposition of Movement and Direction

'Down' can only function as a preposition of movement and show us where the movement is leading. Take a look below:

  • When want to show movement to a lower position:

My mom fell down the stairs and broke her leg.

They're riding down the beach.

  • When we want to show movement along something/someone else, we use 'down':

They drove down the highway to get to the country.

They are taking the boat down the river.

Position in a Sentence

As you know prepositions come before nouns. There are no limitations as to where we can put prepositional phrases in sentences. We can begin a sentence with it, put it in the middle, or put it at the end of the sentence. Take a look below for more clarification:

Down the river, I saw a bunch of kids playing.

Sarah, down the basement, is helping dad wash our clothes.

Granny and I are going down the beach.

Warning!

Please note that when we have a prepositional phrase at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence, we must use commas. Look:

Down the hallway, people were dancing and drinking.

When we begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase, we must put a comma after it.

Lana, down the valley, screamed her lungs out to get someone to help her.

When we have a prepositional phrase in the middle, we must have two commas.

'Down' as a Noun

As it was mentioned above, 'down' can also function as a noun. Below, we are going to analyze the different meanings it can have as a noun:

Use

  • When things are not going well, we use 'down' to talk about the situation:

Everyone has their own ups and downs in life.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'down' is acting as a noun here, it can be used as the subject, the direct or indirect object, or the object of a preposition. Look at the following examples for more clarification:

Ups and downs are part of all our lives.

Here, 'down' is the subject.

There have been more ups and downs in this week than the former one.

'Down' as a Verb

As you know, 'down' can also function as the main verb in a sentence. Below, we are going to analyze the different meanings it can have as a verb:

Use

  • When we want to indicate that someone has eaten or finished a drink quickly, we use 'down':

They downed their teas and suddenly left.

The child downed all her soup and went to sleep.

  • When we want to force someone/something to land on the ground, we use 'down':

The strong winds downed trees and airplanes.

The jets were ordered to down immediately.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'down' here is used as a verb, it mainly comes after the subject. Please note that when we have an imperative sentence, the sentence begins with the verb. Look:

Martha and her friends downed nearly all the drinks at the party.

The boss demanded that all jets be downed.

Idioms and expressions

We have some idioms and expressions wth 'down'. Below, we are going to learn all about them:

  • Be down on someone: When we want to criticize someone, we use this expression:

People who are constantly down on others are unconsciously suppressing their insecurities.

Don't be down on me! Can't you see I'm trying my best?

  • Be down to someone: When we want to indicate that something is one's responsibility, we use this idiom:

I can help you in the way, but it's down to you to heal your wounds.

Leading your sister into the hardships of life was never down to you.

  • Down someone's way: When we want to talk about the place someone lives, we use this expression:

Down their way, people have not even heard of Covid-19.

Down my way, everyone is so friendly.

  • Down the drain: When something goes down the drain, it is completely wasted:

If this project fails, millions of dollars will go down the drain.

The government is specialized in making public money go down the drain.

  • Down tools: When someone refuses to continue their job because of bad conditions:

If the company does nothing for improvement, the employees will keep down tools.

Employers must be cautious of their employees threatening to down tools.

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