keep down: meaning and explanation

The phrasal verb keep something down means to control something so that it stays at a reduced level. Most often, this refers to noise and financial cost.

When it comes to controlling noise, you can think of the phrase keep it down as a fixed expression. This is what you say when you want someone to be quiet or to stop making so much noise. e.g. I don’t mind you having your friends over, but please keep it down a bit – we don’t want the baby to wake up.

Usually, it is clear from the context what noise we are talking about, so we just say ‘it’. However, it is also fine to specify if you want to: keep the music down, keep the volume down, keep your voice down etc.

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

? .
please a ? I can think.

About the sentence

…I can barely hear myself think

Barely has the same meaning and usage as hardly: almost not. For example, if you say “I barely slept last night”, then you slept, but only a tiny bit.

“I can hardly hear myself think” is a fixed expression that we can use when we’re complaining about how noisy something is – usually when we’re trying to focus or work and the noise is distracting us.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Wales

, .
neighbours to , but it doesn’t made .

About the sentence

…but it doesn’t seem to have made any difference…

Notice the very important collocation make a difference, which means that an action causes something to change. e.g. Simon found that giving up social media made a big difference to his mood.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Australia

We the project while a minimum.

About the sentence

…we managed to complete the project…

The phrase to manage to do something is a very useful way to describe completing something difficult or challenging. e.g. I thought I was going to run out of time, but somehow I managed to get the assignment finished on time.

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Has anyone every ignored you when you asked them to keep it down? Or have you ever ignored someone who asked you to keep it down?
  • Can you remember a situation when you had to keep your voice down?

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash