it's down to ...

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shorty1

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.


This is part of AP news.

We really haven't noticed so far any significant birthmarks.
Or I mean it's down to we're looking at the cowlicks in their hair and they all appear to be in the same place.


I took the bolded part to mean what we're looking at is down to something like the cowlicks in their hair.

My understanding is OK?


Thank you for your help.
 
  • Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    What is this story about? What are these people doing?

    I think he is trying to say "We've tried _____ and tried ____ and tried ____ and all that didn't work, so now we're down to doing _____." But he didn't phrase it very well.
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    What is this story about? What are these people doing?

    I think he is trying to say "We've tried _____ and tried ____ and tried ____ and all that didn't work, so now we're down to doing _____." But he didn't phrase it very well.

    This is a situation where a woman in Pennsylvania has delivered Identical Triplets and her surprised husband is saying this.

    So does it mean "We are down to looking at the cowlicks in their hair."?
     
    Last edited:

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think that confirms Sparky's guess. They are looking for some way to distinguish the triplets from each other. They've tried several things, including looking for birthmarks, and nothing has worked, so they have reached the point of comparing cowlicks.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    When someone is under pressure of live television they do not use written English, they use (hurriedly) spoken English where thinking and speaking occur at the same time. The transcriber does not know where the speaker would put punctuation etc and the speaker does not get a chance to edit. A more likely version would be

    Or ... I mean ... It's down to ... We're looking at the cowlicks in their hair and they all appear to be in the same place.
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, all.

    Probably it means we're trying hard to look for the difference of their looks but even the cowlicks in their hair appear to be in the same place.


    I haven't understood yet why 'it's down to' is used here. :confused:
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The use of "down to" is covered in one of the many definitions of "down"
    "down •13 reduced to a state of lack or want: down to the last pound"

    We are almost out of ideas (we are almost lacking ideas) of what to look at to be able to distinguish them. We're down to our last idea: cowlicks!
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The use of "down to" is covered in one of the many definitions of "down"
    "down •13 reduced to a state of lack or want: down to the last pound"

    We are almost out of ideas (we are almost lacking ideas) of what to look at to be able to distinguish them. We're down to our last idea: cowlicks!

    Thank you, Julian.



    The construction in the original sentence was wrong.


    I thought it meant we're trying to look for the difference of their appearance down to the cowlicks in their hair but even they appear to be in the same place.


    What does mean 'We're down to' in your sentence?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I have highlighted in red the meaning of "down (to). My illustration sentence now has an = sign to explain what down to means.
    The use of "down to" is covered in one of the many definitions of "down"
    "down •13 reduced to a state of lack or want: down to the last pound"
    We have spent nearly all our money, we are down to our last pound.

    We are almost out of ideas (we are almost lacking ideas) of what to look at to be able to distinguish them. = We're down to our last idea: cowlicks!
     
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