narrow down: meaning and explanation
The phrasal verb to narrow something down is used to talk about reducing the options or possibilities you have when you’re making a decision. e.g. We’ve managed to narrow down the list to three candidates, but it’s going to be very difficult to make a final choice on which one gets the job.
You can narrow down a list of options by removing the things which are least appropriate or necessary. When you eliminate (or rule out) these options, you’re left with a shortlist with a more manageable number of choices.
Often, this helps to make the decision easier. For example, if you’re an indecisive person then choosing something to eat from a full menu can be very difficult and confusing. Narrowing it down to two or three options will help you to make a final choice.
A related meaning of this phrasal verb is to make the topic of something more focussed and less vague or general. This could apply to research, an investigation, a study, and so on. e.g. In order to make this study as relevant as possible, I’ve decided to narrow down the focus to online customers only.
Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?
About the sentence
…We still haven’t come to a final decision…
To come to a decision is a nice alternative to the verb to decide. e.g. You’ve had plenty of time to debate this now, so I’d like you to come to a decision in the next few minutes.
Accent: England (RP)
Accent: North America
About the sentence
…to make a decision…
The phrase to make a decision is a very important and common collocation, and is another alternative to the verb to decide. e.g. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been terrible at making decisions.
Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:
- Think of a time you had a decision to make, and had too many choices. Were you able to narrow down the options?