I see both "It's up to you" and "It's down to you" in conversations. So what's the difference?

  • As an example in "So you think you can dance" TV show, after the judges critique the dance routine, the host replies that "It's down to you to vote ..."
    – hamed
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 12:48
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    I've heard "it's come down to you," and "it's left to you", but never "it's down to you." The word 'come' indicates to me that everyone else has already been given the chance and failed to deliver. Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 14:20
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    Growing up in Australia in the 1970s I only ever knew "up to you" and found "down to you" irked me quite a bit when I started hearing it in British TV and movies. Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 15:05
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    I have heard "down to you" in Br.E. in places where I, as an American, would have said "up to you" (e.g. without the implication of a "whittling down" of a list of other people) so I think there's a large regional variation here.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 20:09
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    I did some investigating on Google Ngrams and found that "down to you" is both much more recent than "up to you" and also much more prevalent in British English than American English. But I do find the semantic differences in the answers here largely apply. Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 9:24

12 Answers 12


I felt "It's up to you" means that you're the one responsible for the job, "It's down to you" means that nobody else is left who can do the job except you.

ADDING ON: I realized from the comment that what I wanted to imply wasn't completely clear. As ngmiceli says, "down to you" suggests that there were others who could do the job, but for some reason, they are not available to do so (because they may be dead/busy/out to lunch), leaving only you.

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    I think ngmiceli is a little closer: "It's down to you" implies that all other members of some set of people have been eliminated from some set of people; it is used often, but not exclusively, in cases where a set of people was responsible for doing something and the sole survivor would inherit such responsibility. In an elimination competition, a judge might say "It's down to you two". That doesn't imply responsibility. More like, "one of you two is going to win".
    – supercat
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 16:21
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    A point which neither you, ngmiceli, nor anyone else observed is is that what the phrase implies by itself is simply that the person (or people) being addressed is the sole remaining member(s) of some group. If it was necessary that the group "do" something, it would thus be necessary for the surviving member(s) to do it, but "it's down to you" doesn't by itself imply that anything needs or needed to be done. Elimination might be by pure chance. As for "stealing", I would think proper form would be to say something like, "As XXX noted, ..." but I'm hardly an etiquette authority.
    – supercat
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 17:00
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    responsible for the job, really? why do answer if you don't know? phrasemix.com/examples/its-up-to-you
    – defhlt
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 0:50
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    @ArtemIce In that example, you are "responsible" for choosing what to eat. "There are 30 servers down, and it's up to you to fix them" is also a valid use of the phrase. This answer is excellent.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 2:53
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    I actually felt "it's up to you" is an awkward thing to say when someone asks you what you want to eat. Not wrong, but awkward. And anyway, in that case you're making your mother responsible for choosing what to make for breakfast. Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 4:39

'It's up to you' connotes some element of personal choice. 'It's down to you' has more of an implication of responsibility or duty.

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    I can see responsibility in "up to you" as well. "Keeping your sister safe while on the trip is up to you." Yes, there is personal choice, but also the implication of responsibility. I think the more important difference is that "down to you" implies the last member left of some group. There may be no responsibility at all with this. The other day on American Ninja Warrior, only one person made it to the third round of the finals. Someone could have said "The competition is/[has been reduced] down to you" without meaning responsibility for continuing.
    – ErikE
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 20:46
  1. Up to you = Responsible for a decision
  2. Down to you = Responsible for an action


  1. What happens next is up to you
  2. The choice is yours, it's entirely up to you
  3. It's now down to you to impress the judges
  4. Everything that has gone wrong in my life is entirely down to you, you useless...
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    I disagree that either necessarily has anything to do with responsibility. Both can have responsibility, or not. I also think #4 is completely wrong. I would never say "is down to you" to mean personal blame. That just makes no sense. I would say "due to you."
    – ErikE
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 20:49
  • "Down to me" is a way British people say "because of me" or "due to me." Like the Rolling Stones song: "It's down to me, the way she talks when she's spoken to. She's under my thumb."
    – librik
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 5:57
  • ErikE: I personally would say "because of you" for number 4. It is an example of where "Down to you" is valid and "Up to you" is not, and I have heard this expression used in this way many times. Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 7:15
  • @PeterMorris Perhaps we could say that "down to you" is more about the responsibility for the result rather than action, couldn't we?
    – Karolis
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 17:07

Though the two tend to have the same meaning, I hear them used in very different contexts.

"It's up to you!" This is often used in a more generic context, where one often wishes to encourage someone who holds the key to success in whatever endeavor is being talked about. It should also be noted that this phrase could simply imply, "The choice is yours."

On the other hand, "It's down to you." doesn't strike me personally as placing blame, though I certainly can see it being used that way. The first context that comes to my mind is a situation's success still rests in "your" hands, but this implies that there was some elimination that brought the scenario to this point. For example, a group of four people are all trying to beat the current chess champion. The first three each go up against him and are defeated. Finally, one says to the fourth man, "It's down to you".

I don't see "It's down to you" meaning "It's your choice"; that feels somewhat unnatural to me, unless everyone else opted not to have an opinion in which case you were the only one left to make a choice.

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    I'd say that in "it's down to you", the pronoun refers to "a set of people". The only situation I can see where "it's down to you" would imply blame would be if one was the only remaining member from "the set of people upon whom blame could be placed". Otherwise, I think the implication is not so much one of responsibility as sole survivorship in some set of people. While it is often used in a context where a set of people would have some responsibility which would be inherited by the sole survivor, any attachment of responsibility would stem from the context, rather than the phrase itself.
    – supercat
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 16:15

They can mean the same thing — 'the choice is yours' — but in some contexts I believe It's down to you can mean 'It's your fault.'

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    I'd also add that "down to you" can also mean "you have to do it/it's your responsibility".
    – Wudang
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 12:12
  • I think there's a regional aspect at work here. In my region of Am Eng you would never say "it's down to you" to indicate choice.
    – Lynn
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 22:36

I'm not entirely comfortable with any answers given so far. In BE the meanings are quite distinct and different: it's up to you means the choice is yours whilst it's down to you means it's your responsibility or worse, it's your fault!


I would personally interpret It's up to you to be referring to a choice.

You can have cake or you can have ice cream. It's up to you.

It's down to you seems to refer more to an obligation

This project has to be finished by 5pm, its down to you to get it done.

If this seems like a weak attempt to understand the phrases, try reversing them. They sound very strange.

You can have cake or you can have ice cream. It's down to you.

This project has to be finished by 5pm, its up to you to get it done.

  • The responsibility part of down to you comes from the context, not the inherent meaning. It is more about being the last remaining member of a group that was larger. "The Barrett High School class of 1930 Chess Club was down to just George, as all his teammates had died." Last, I see absolutely nothing wrong with your final example (This project... is up to you). It's perfect usage!
    – ErikE
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 20:50

It's Up to you: It is your decision
It's Down to you: You are responsible


"It's up to you" implies (at least for me) initiative and a certain level of faith in 'you'. As in, there is a problem, and it's up to you to fix it, since you are the best person for the job, it's your job to fix it, you have the tools to fix it, etc. I don't know if the two phrases are technically linked, but I see a parallel with "I'm up for it".

"It's down to you" is a little more negative, implying that the problem was your fault, or that the reason you're being relied on to fix it is simply because there's no one else to do it.

There's also the other meaning of "it's up to you", which is what Barrie said: the choice is yours. In this case, "it's down to you" implies generally the same thing, but I see it as carrying the extra meaning that everyone else has decided, and now it's time for you to make your choice (everyone else has gone, you're the only one left-- it's down to one, which is you).


The service is not processing inputs correctly so ignore the other post and let's try again here.

Both are mere idiomatic expressions. Up to you connotes an obligation and its tone is typically affirmative. Down to you, connotes an obligation, or usurpation (neither necessarily affirmative) of last, negative, deviant, or derelict resort. The expression, down to me, first came into (more less than more) vogue in the 1970s as a refrain in the lyric of the rock song, "Under My Thumb," sung by Mick Jagger, Rolling stones: also the song in progress at the Altamont Pass (California) concert, during which a killing perpetrated by individuals in the hell's angels motorcyle club took place.

Down to, as an alteration of up to, implies not fault or culpability but, rather, the absence or exhaustion, for good or ill, of all alternative choices. It's "down to you" because no one else was or remains available, as a matter of due course or of choice.


Longman English Dictionary says

  1. be down to somebody
    if an action or decision is down to you, it is your responsibility:
    It's down to me to make sure that everyone is happy.

  1. be up to somebody (link)
    a) used to say that someone can decide about something:
    You can pay weekly or monthly - it's up to you.
    b) used to say that someone is responsible for a particular duty:
    It's up to the travel companies to warn customers of any possible dangers.

In the following gap fill exercise, Cambridge accepts both versions in their First certificate (level B2), Paper 3, Use of English 2008.

Your entry can take any form—a piece of writing, a picture, or even architectural plans. It is completely _________ to you.

Instinctively, I'd prefer up to you because candidates have the maximum freedom of choice; however, I can also see how down to you would imply they alone, and no one else, are responsible for that choice.

  • I was going to post this as a question but it's been asked before.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 15:41
  • Could we use "be down to" instead of "be up to" in example (b) ?
    – Karolis
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 17:47
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    @Karolis Instinctively, I would prefer "be up to" but "be down to" would be just as acceptable. The two, in this instance, are pretty much interchangeable.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 18:05

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