go down [on] it (a road)

susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
Hi there,

I'm reading a rather nice play by David Lodge, called The Writing Game. At one point one of the writers, Leo, tells a student that she shouldn't strive only for publication, because it's equally important to achieve success. He concludes his very short discourse by saying,
"It's a hard, lonely road, Penny. You sure you want to go down it?"

Does "down it" work? Shouldn't it have been "down on it"? Of course, David Lodge must know what he's doing. I'm wondering whether this version is a BrE thing.

Thanks!
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Do you want to go down this road?"

    There's nothing wrong with it, either literally or metaphorically. " Going down on ..." has sexual connotations. I don't want to go down that road!

    Hermione
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hi Hermione. Yes, "Do you want to go down this road?" works, and it would appear that "it" can replace "this road" and that's that. But something appears to be missing when you say "down it." Also, when you rephrase the question by saying "Is that a road you want to go down on?" you do get the "on" in there.

    I thought about the sexual connotations too, but I don't think they're especially pregnant here because of this nondescript "it." But maybe other people will agree with you.

    I searched "want to go down on it" and found 3.830.000 results.
    I also searched "want to go down it" and found 33.600.000 results!
    I'm still wondering whether "down it" is common in AmE, so any help will be appreciated!
     
    Last edited:

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Believe me, going down on a road, without further qualification, evokes ludicrous images in a native speaker, to the extent that he might say that it is an anatomical impossibility.

    In going down the road, down means further along, sense 2 for the preposition in our dictionary. I've googled for the phrase as you did, and some of the examples do fit, so the combination does get written sometimes. But many of them parse differently, as (go down=fall, collapse) (on the road=away from home for a sports team) for example.
     

    cubaMania

    Senior Member
    ...Also, when you rephrase the question by saying "Is that a road you want to go down on?" you do get the "on" in there.
    I, a speaker of American English, would not use "on" in that sentence. I would say "Is that the road you want to go down?"
    ...I thought about the sexual connotations too, but I don't think they're especially pregnant here because of this nondescript "it."...
    I'm still wondering whether "down it" is common in AmE, so any help will be appreciated!
    Quite independent of any possible sexual interpretation of "to go down on", this structure does not call for "on" (at least in its most common form). We go down the road, run down the road, skip down the road, hurry down the road, travel down the road, speed down the road, walk down the road, etc., with no "down on", most commonly.
     
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