Have you ever cut down a tree? Has anyone ever cut you down? Are you trying to cut down on anything? To cut down is yet another of the seemingly endless English phrasal verbs that have multiple, and seemingly unrelated, meanings.

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Used to describe the action of causing something to fall or be removed by cutting it at its base (especially used with trees), is probably where this phrasal verb makes the most sense. For instance:

We cut the tree in our back yard down after it was struck by lightening.

SimpsonTreeApril11 300x225 English Phrasal Verbs: Cut Down

Someone cut this tree down.

Someone cut down all the flowers that were growing in the park.

When someone cuts someone else down, this can have a few meanings. It can mean that someone was killed by a weapon or a disease, for instance:

The police man was cut down by a gun shot.

Disease has cut down the bird population.

It can also mean to make someone feel less significant or important, usually by verbal ridicule. For instance:

In his speech, the President cut down senators who doubted him.

That night, a comedian cut down the president for his treatment of the senators.

Finally, when we say we want to cut down on something, it means to do less of something. Usually, it’s used related to unhealthy activities. For instance:

I’m trying to cut down on sugar.

My friend is trying to cut down on smoking.

I’d like to cut down on my internet time.

The video below is for Johnny Cash’s song God’s Gonna Cut You Down. The refrain is “Sooner or later God’ll cut you down.” What do you think it means in this context?

Ok, there’s cut down, another tough phrasal verb added to the list. Let us know if there are any phrasal verbs that you find difficult, and we will feature it in our blog.

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