cut down: meaning and explanation

to cut down on something = to reduce something

We often use this phrasal verb to talk about reducing something which we think we should do less often (e.g. Money is a bit tight this month, so I need top cut down on eating out.), or consume less of (e.g. I’m trying to cut down on crisps but I’m really struggling.).

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: North America

You'd you cut amount coffee .
You'd better if you cut on the amount coffee you .

…You’d sleep better if you cut down on

This is an example of a second conditional: If + past, would + verb.

We use the second conditional to talk about the unreal or hypothetical present.

This means that in this example, it is very unlikely or impossible that the person will cut down on the amount of coffee they drink.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Is there anything that you think you should cut down on?
  • Have you ever tried to cut down on something? Were you successful or did you fail?

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