Down to you - Up to you

Hello,

"That could also be down to lack of understanding"
"Entrepreneurship may be down to genetics"

In both the sentences the meaning is clear, but I'd say "due" instead of "down":
Have "due" and "down" got exactly the same connotation in these examples? Could I replace "down" with "due" without changing the meaning or "to be down to" fits in better?
 
  • Bil

    Banned
    English USA
    Hi Paul

    The use of "be down to" is a very poor construction that would momentarily confuse even a native English speaker. I think that what they're inferring is the expression "boils down to." Your idea of replacing it with the word "due" is an excellent choice.
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    Paulfromitaly said:
    Hello,

    "That could also be down to lack of understanding"
    "Entrepreneurship may be down to genetics"

    In both the sentences the meaning is clear, but I'd say "due" instead of "down":
    Have "due" and "down" got exactly the same connotation in these examples? Could I replace "down" with "due" without changing the meaning or "to be down to" fit in better?

    Down to means the responsibility or fault of.
    Due to means caused by.
    Owing to means because of.
    Up to means dependent or incumbent upon.
    Boils down to means to reduce something to its essentials/to reveal the most important part or factor.

    In your first sentence there are alternative possibilities, "That could also be down to/due to/owing to a lack of understanding"

    Your second sentence though could cause some problems. While it may be said frequently, I do not think there is a gene or gene matrix that expressly endues someone with entrepreneurial abilities. Genetics may be responsible for someone's mental ability to learn how to see opportunities, and make their development profitable. So, in a roundabout way:

    "Entrepreneurship may be down to genetics," would seem the only possibility here.
     

    kertek

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The use of "be down to" is a very poor construction that would momentarily confuse even a native English speaker.
    Just to back up A90Six, this use of "down to" is perfectly acceptable English, and the BBC seems to agree...

    It may be more common in British than in American English. Despite what certain posts on these forums would lead you to believe, just because something is less common in one variation of English than another, that does not necessarily make it "poor" English...!
     
    kertek said:
    Just to back up A90Six, this use of "down to" is perfectly acceptable English, and the BBC seems to agree...

    It may be more common in British than in American English. Despite what certain posts on these forums would lead you to believe, just because something is less common in one variation of English than another, that does not necessarily make it "poor" English...!

    We've made a couple of points so far:

    - "down to" sounds poor in AE but it's perfectly fine in BE;
    - it's not always possible to replace "down to" with another expression like "due to" without a slight change of the meaning;
     

    Bil

    Banned
    English USA
    It may be more common in British than in American English. Despite what certain posts on these forums would lead you to believe, just because something is less common in one variation of English than another, that does not necessarily make it "poor" English...!

    I'm sorry. I think you misread my post. I said that it is a poor constuction, not poor English. I guess "it's down to" my appreciation of expressions that actually convey a meaning.

     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Clearly BE. In AE you could say "be put down to" with the same meaning, but "be down to" would not be generally understood.

    No judgment call intended.
     

    Kelly B

    Curmodgeratrice
    USA English
    I agree with mgarizona for AE usage - my first impression was that someone forgot the word "put."
     

    A90Six

    Senior Member
    England - English.
    mgarizona said:
    Clearly BE. In AE you could say "be put down to" with the same meaning, but "be down to" would not be generally understood.

    No judgment call intended.
    Put down to means attribute to.


    So far we have:
    • Boils down to means to reduce something to its essentials/to reveal the most important part or factor.
    • Down to means the responsibility or fault of.
    • Due to means caused by.
    • Owing to means because of.
    • Put down to means attribute to.
    • Up to means dependent or incumbent upon.


    Owing to (because of) Paulfromitqaly's original question, many different phrases have been highlighted due to (caused by) there their similarity, in meaning or construction. This could be put down to (attributed to) my not realising that some of the usage may be BE only.
    I have included this explanation as I feel it is up to (incumbent upon) me to try to make the differences clear. What it all boils down to (means essentially) is that it is down to us (our responsibility) to ensure that Palufromitaly, and any other non-natives reading this thread, can understand the meaning of each of these phrases.:)
     
    A90Six said:
    Owing to (because of) Paulfromitaly's original question, many different phrases have been highlighted due to (caused by) there their similarity, in meaning or construction. This could be put down to (attributed to) my not realising that some of the usage may be BE only.
    I have included this explanation as I feel it is up to (incumbent upon) me to try to make the differences clear. What it all boils down to (means essentially) is that it is down to us (our responsibility) to ensure that Paulfromitaly, and any other non-natives reading this thread, can understand the meaning of each of these phrases.:)

    Thanks...this is absolutely brilliant!
     

    cas29

    Senior Member
    Canada/English
    I've been noticing this more and more lately (probably due to exposure to friends from the UK and Ireland!)

    I find the expression "down to you" very odd - and I see that my Anglo European friends use it a lot - and seemingly interchangably with "up to you".

    I never say "it's down to you/me/him/etc" to mean that everything depends on someone.

    For example..... The batter steps up to home plate ready to swing, the bases are loaded and there are two men out.... A team mate shouts "It's up to you Tom!" ---

    I also see down to used as in "it is that person's fault" or the reason this (bad) thing happened is due to (down to) this circumstance.

    I'm curious to know
    a) who uses "down to" and
    b) under which circumstances (positive, negative or both)
     

    Snowman75

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    For me, "down to you" means that everyone else has failed and you're the only one left. The "down" suggests a decrease in the number of people to whom it was originally "up". :)
     

    zena168

    Member
    US
    ROC Mandarin
    I think of “down to you” as there’s no one else who can do the job except that person. It can be as Snowman75 interpreted “a decrease of number” that you’re the only one possible for the job. (AE)
     

    cas29

    Senior Member
    Canada/English
    Thanks Panjandrum -- I did do a search before posting but didn't find this thread... perhaps I need to hone my seach skills!
     

    Parergon

    Senior Member
    Italiano, Italia
    it is up to you / it is down to you

    * Do both the two above expressions have the same meaning?
    If they do not, what is the difference?
     

    hly2004

    Banned
    chinese
    I agree.
    Sometimes "up to somebody" in certain context can also mean "responsible for" as the following explanation in Longman Dictionary

    19 be up to somebody
    a) used to say that someone can decide about something: You can pay weekly or monthly - it's up to you.


    b) used to say that someone is responsible for a particular duty: It's up to the travel companies to warn customers of any possible dangers.

    I think-but not sure- "it's down to you" has the same meaning with "up to" in the second case.

    Hope it helps:)
     

    born in newyork

    Senior Member
    U.S.A./English
    In the US, "it's down to" is used much less than "it's up to." Often, it's phrased as "it's come down to."

    It means that the object (in this case "you") is the only person or thing left to do or complete something.

    Example:

    Everyone else in the contest has been eliminated. It's down to George and Alice now.


    For example,
     

    Pnevma

    Senior Member
    English,USA
    In the US, "it's down to" is used much less than "it's up to."

    I'm gonna disagree. "It's up to you" is typically more open ended, or it's used alone. "You can leave anytime; it's up to you." Or "It's up to you to save the world."

    "down to you" is almost always "come down to" (as you pointed out)
    "It comes down to you versus Mr. Evil Man."
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Down to you" has a sense of all other possible responsible parties being eliminated, one way or the other. "Up to you" means that it's your responsibility but it may be other people's responsibility as well.

    "It's up to you to take care of your mother" means that it's your responsibility, as well as others, to take care of your mother.

    "It's down to you to take care of your mother" means that all other parties have been eliminated or disqualified for some reason or another, and you are the only one who can take care of your mother at this point.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "Down to you" has a sense of all other possible responsible parties being eliminated, one way or the other. :tick:"Up to you" means that it's your responsibility but it may be other people's responsibility as well.:thumbsdown:

    I still maintain that up to you is about choice, and decision-making - not about responsibility.

    "It's up to you to take care of your mother" means that it's your responsibility, as well as others, to take care of your mother.
    [/quote]

    This is a good point. As one of three children, we all have equal responsibility to care of our parents, but talk to me on my own, and yes, it's correct to say, "It's up to you to take care of your mother". I'm not contradicting the "thumbs down" quote above, it's just that I don't agree that the phrase is tied to responsibility. After all, we may (all three children) decide that none of us are responsible for looking after our parents.

    This would then raise an issue of duty v. responsibility!
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I do see that it can signal a decision that is yours and yours alone, but it often (I would argue, predominantly) used to signal a personal responsibility.

    Here are a few examples I Googled:

    It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin
    It's up to you to make your career better
    It is up to you to decide whether and how you use a lawyer in your divorce.
    It’s up to you to stop customers from using a desktop printer...
    It’s Up to YOU to Prevent the Flu.
    It's up to you to set the topic and tone of your conversation.

    To me, other than the decision about the lawyer, these phrases have the sense of "it is your responsibility", not, for example, "it's your decision whether or not to set the topic or tone" or "it's your decision whether or not to stop customers from using the printer." Even in the case of the decision about the lawyer, the sense is that it is your responsibility (it is incumbent upon you) to decide whether or not to use a lawyer, and how to use one if you decide to do so.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Thus, these quotes are saying, "You owe it to yourself". However, is that the same as responsibility? Many people choose not to do any of the above - at their peril admittedly, but nevertheless, they have the choice (there's that word again!).
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin
    It's up to you to make your career better.../...

    these phrases have the sense of "it is your responsibility"...


    I see "responsibility" as accountability. It may be more accurate to say that we have a duty to look after our skin etc. Hence, a moral obligation - so I don't fully go along with that.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Thus, these quotes are saying, "You owe it to yourself". However, is that the same as responsibility? Many people choose not to do any of the above - at their peril admittedly, but nevertheless, they have the choice (there's that word again!).

    Don't we always have choice whether or not to accept responsibility/accountability? I don't think that that's proof that the phrase does not mean responsibility.

    If it's choice, then the sentence about the printer would mean "you can choose whether or not to stop the customer from using the printer." While this is a true statement on an existential level, I say it is not the communication of the statement. If a boss says to a guard, "It's up to you to keep the press out of my office" it doesn't mean "I'll leave it up to you to choose whether or not to let the press into my office." ;) If a manager says, "It's up to you to get to work on time" it does not mean, "It's your choice whether you get to work on time or not" or "You owe it to yourself to get to work on time." It means that it is your responsibility and there are consequences if you don't accept that responsibility and act accordingly. Certainly, you have the choice to accept the responsibility, but the communication is not about the choice; it's about the responsibility.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    If a manager says, "It's up to you to get to work on time" it does not mean, "It's your choice whether you get to work on time or not" or "You owe it to yourself to get to work on time."It means that it is your responsibility and there are consequences if you don't accept that responsibility and act accordingly.

    Well, it raises the question as to whether or not an individual feels responsibility if made to feel they are being given the choice. Some bosses might use this as a way of suggesting that if you don't want the job, there's always someone else available to replace you. I think by quoting scenarios, the debate becomes context sensitive. For example, tell me that if a surgeon tells one of several theatre staff: "It's up to you to get to work on time" - then I would agree that choice is not an option; this person is part of a team, and it is up to them to make sure they show up for work.

    Sorry JamesM, I have partly crossed my own, earlier opinion as the thread moved along, where I said:

    "I still maintain that up to you is about choice, and decision-making - not about responsibility."

    I now take back the part in red above, because I think responsibility has come under the spotlight as a separate issue.
     

    panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    These examples of "It's up to you" may imply taking individual responsibility (for my skin care) and/or choice (to give my life savings to a lawyer). I suppose I'm getting round to suggesting that in each case it's really up to each individual to take this responsibility or make this choice. It's a kind of "It's up to each of us ..."

    The essence of "It's down to you" in my mind is that something or other that might well have been taken on by somebody else has now become my responsibility.

    Five of us sit round a table discussing the complex report that has to be written for next Tuesday. Come the end of the meeting we have to decide who is going to take the assembled thoughts away and write the report. Amy is away for the weekend, Bill is feeling ill, Charlie is taking his kids to the mountains, Diane can't write to save herself. They all look at Eddie and Bill says, "Looks like it's down to you, Eddie."

    I think I'm clutching at straws here.
    Perhaps it's easier to fall back on the great blue Atlantic to explain different views.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I'd like to finish here, by summarising for myself and anyone else who agrees. I suggest that, "down to you" is the responsibility of a single individual (or group), where responsibility rests solely on that individual (or group). "Up to you" I suggest, offers the individual (or group) the opportunity, through choice, to take responsibility. Once the individual (or group) takes up the moral obligation and becomes responsible to both himself /herself (or themselves) then I suggest that "up to you" has served a purpose. In essence, "up to you" chooses to take responsibility, after which, it becomes, "down to you".
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    I was brought up to say 'up to' to indicate moral obligation of a kind:

    It was up to me to cook the dinner.

    About twenty years ago I became conscious that many people used down to in analagous circumstances.

    It was down to me to cook the dinner.

    I also became aware that down to was taking over from due to in many sentences:

    The damage to the furniture was down to the rain.

    So this new phrase was broader in application than the old one.

    Thirty years ago I think we only said down to in expressions like let's go down to the pub.

    I don't particularly deplore the change, though I have friends who do. In the British Isles we often assume such things have come from America; is down to old usage in AE?
     

    Randisi.

    Senior Member
    American English; USA
    Hi, Thomas.

    I don't know if it's old AE, but I can say that most Americans haven't a clue what Mick Jagger means when he sings, 'It's down to me', in "Under My Thumb" (unless they've been watching 'Eastenders' and the like on public television).

    In other words, we mostly use 'down to' in the sense of 'Going down to the corner store.'

    Though you can sometimes hear 'Chalk it down to' as a rarer variation of 'Chalk it up to'.
     

    panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Sorry for the short closure of the thread - I knew we'd talked about this subject recently but it took longer than I expected to find the thread. I've popped today's question onto the end of the earlier thread so it should be useful to look back over what has been said already.
     
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