come down with: meaning and explanation

We use the phrasal verb to come down with something to mean to become ill/unwell

We only really use this phrasal verb for small/non-serious illnesses, e.g. a cold or the flu. Don’t use it to talk about something serious.

Instead of specifying the illness (e.g a cold), it is common to just say something – this is because we don’t feel very well, but we don’t know what is causing it. e.g. I feel like I might be coming down with something – I hope it isn’t that cough that Jessica had last week.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: North America

Paris .
I visit Paris but I after the flu.

About the sentence

…I was going to visit Paris…

This is an example of the future in the past.

We use to be going to + verb to talk about a future plan. When we use this structure in the past (e.g. I was going to + verb), it is usually to talk about a plan that we had to change.

e.g We were going to go out for a walk this weekend, but the weather was awful = we had to change our original plan.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: England (RP)


I'm can't today – I've a nasty cold.

About the sentence

…I’m afraid I can’t come in today…

We often use ‘I’m afraid…’ to introduce some bad news. e.g. I’m afraid I won’t have time to come and see you this weekend….I’m afraid you have failed your exam.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Northern England


I'm well – might be something.