I have seen this sentence in a few English songs. But I am not sure what it means. Does the sentence "I am on my knees" mean "I am down" or "I am sad"?

closed as off topic by MetaEd, Cameron, tchrist, Matt E. Эллен, coleopterist Oct 15 '12 at 15:42

Questions on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange are expected to relate to English language and usage within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • A stanza from Eric Clapton's song Layla: Layla, you've got me on my knees. Layla, I'm begging, darling please. Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind. This is self-explanatory. – user21497 Oct 13 '12 at 6:36
  • Kolkimhak - doesn't your native tongue have a similar expression of contrition? – Matt E. Эллен Oct 13 '12 at 13:57

Generally speaking, “to be down on one’s knees” means begging someone for something, hoping for a positive result thanks to this humble and kind of “extreme” act.

Still, you are down on your knees in front of God, praying for Him to be merciful despite your sins.


It usually mean the person is either begging or praying.

enter image description here

  • adding picture... – GEdgar Oct 13 '12 at 18:57

I would picture somebody with their hands-clamped on their knees asking, begging, for something from the person.

Being on your knees definitely exerts an inferiority to the other person. Picture the countless images of slaves on their knees.

Bowing down to somebody begging for their forgiveness, giving them the superiority factor.

To answer your question, neither. More apologetic than down or sad.


Depends. The use I have heard the most in normal conversation means being weak after a difficult period - in songs you can have religious songs about praying, begging songs about forgiveness and proposal songs about wanting to get married. Can you give the name of a song you know has the expression?

on your knees

  1. with your knees on the ground - I was on my hands and knees looking under the bed.

  2. used for emphasizing that you are very sorry - He should be on his knees begging for forgiveness.

  3. used for emphasizing that you want someone to help you - Do I have to go down on my knees and beg?

  4. extremely weak after a very difficult period - The economy was on its knees.


A vulgar meaning of “on my knees” is “performing fellatio”, so these:

  • She is on her knees for me.
  • He is on his knees for me.

both mean that the person is ready to provide me with oral sex.


In love songs when someone has been rejected, that person is down (sad) asking for forgiveness (if the rejection was on account of some bad behavior or choice) or praying for answers or just weak with emotion. All reasons for being on ones knees.

"Begging you please" rhymes well with "I'm on my knees."

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.