I'm confused by the following sentence, which I encountered under the entry for advantage in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

When it comes down to working from home, you have to decide if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Can someone explain what it means?

I'm confused because in my understanding of English, the phrases "when it comes to", "come to", "come down to", and "when it comes down to it/that" all have different meanings, and I'm not sure which is being applied in this sentence.

It would help me understanding of you could provide other examples based on "when it comes down to doing something …" .

  • 2
    I suspect the composer of the troublesome sentence has confused these idioms you list, and written "comes down to" when "comes to" was meant. Jul 17, 2015 at 21:27
  • Yes, it is an error. The sentence should be, “When it comes to working from home..." Jul 17, 2015 at 21:32
  • P.S. Could you change "pharases" in your title to "phrases" - Thanks. Jul 17, 2015 at 21:34
  • 1
    "And when it comes down to having the choice of being right or protecting you, I'll be wrong every single time." From the TV show South of Nowhere, per imdb. I had to flip through several pages of Google hits on "when it comes down to" before coming to the first one where a gerund followed. And that's dialogue written for a teenage character, hardly a gold standard. Jul 17, 2015 at 21:36
  • When it comes down to eating more vegetables in order to live longer, I guess I'm going to die young.
    – mkennedy
    Jul 17, 2015 at 21:47

2 Answers 2


When I say "... it comes down to ..." I am usually introducing a concluding remark, a conclusion, a summary of a preceding longer discussion. When I say "It comes to ..." I am introducing a step along the road or the argument. The insertion of the word "down" suggests a metaphor that parallels "boiling down", reducing, condensing, or similar notions. I therefore disagree with donovan and chasly, both of whom take amore limited view and regard "comes down to" as wrong.

  • - I don't disagree with your analysis. I just don't think it applies to the specific sentence given in the question. Jul 17, 2015 at 22:59

I am familiar with the expression: "when it comes down to the wire...."

"down to the wire

To the last minute; to the very end. For example, We're just about down to the wire with this project. This term comes from horseracing, where it was long the practice to stretch a wire across and above the track at the finish line. It was extended to figurative use about 1900." Free Dictionary, Idioms

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