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What is the meaning of down to the?

E.g. in this statement:

In order to use this feature, the statements must be exactly the same - down to the number of spaces, tabs, capital/small letters.

My understanding of the above statement is that the statement must be exactly the same, including the number of spaces, tabs, capital/small letters.

Am I correct? If not please correct me.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Your understanding is correct.

The phrase 'down to' is used to convey a sense of doing something in great detail, often with the implication of a 'wider' starting point, e.g.,

He cleaned the car from top to bottom, from washing and waxing the paintwork, down to polishing the wheels and vaccuuming the carpets

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There's also down to the wire, meaning that something is not completed until the very last moment (whether by procrastination, unavoidable delays, or even very close results).

For other "down to" expressions:

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