Phrasal Verb Let Down – Learn how to use it!

June 1, 2017 - Priscila Pereira

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“I need you, I need you, I need you right nowYeah, I need you right nowSo dont let me dont let me, dont let me downI think Im losing my mind now”        The Chainsmokers – Dont Let Me Down ft. Daya

 Do you know this song??                       

Hey guys, how are you doing on this lovely day?

Today I want to show you another phrasal verb. I will tell you the most common meanings, how to use it and give examples (written and oral ones)

Let down is a very popular phrasal verb and is used all the time by native speakers! Some students misunderstand

this phrasal verb because of the part “let”. Remember, to understand a phrasal verb you have to read all its parts as only one. That way you will be able to understand this phrasal verb.  Let down has an abstract meaning (the most common one), but also a “physical” meaning when you are actually moving an object. Let’s take a look at the explanations below:

1. When you move something “down”, when you cause something to come down, to “lower”

Example 01:  let the down the ladder, so that I can climb up.

In this case, someone is asking another person to “lower” the ladder, so they can climb up to where this other person is. This is not an abstract meaning, you are actually making a movement, and you are lowering an object for a person. You are descending something gradually.

Example 02:  let the bucket down gently, we don’t wanna make a mess around here.

In this case, someone is lowering (descending) a bucket (probably with something in it, like water or another kind of liquid). The person is asking the other to be gentle, to be careful, because they cannot make a mess around that space.


2. To make someone disappointed, by not doing something they needed you to do or that they expected you to do (abstract meaning). The best word to translate this phrasal verb would be “to disappoint” In this case, this phrasal verb has an abstract meaning. If you let somebody down, you are disappointing this person. This person expected you to do something, but you didn’t.

Example 01: I need you right now. Don’t let me down, I’m losing my mind!

If you pay attention at the song “don’t let me down”, the singer is telling someone she needs them. Then she asks: Don’t let me down, which means, “don’t disappoint me”. I am losing my mind (I’m going crazy)

Example 02:  John really let Mia down when he forgot to add her in the VIP list for the conference.


In this case, John really disappointed Mia. He made her sad. She needed him, she was expecting him to add her name in a list, but he didn’t, that’s why John let her down. He failed to meet Mia’s hopes and expectations.

Example 03: The Government is letting people down by refusing to change immigrations legislation.


In this case, the government is not doing a good job. The government is failing to meet people’s expectations, people’s needs. They are not doing what is necessary to change immigrations legislation, consequently, people are feeling let down, disappointed by the government.

Example 04: Local hospital let down people and their families last week when they closed their doors for an entire week. The hospital claims the closure was due to unmanageable technical problems. The Hospital has resumed activities, but further investigation will be carried out.

In this case, a hospital “disappointed” many people, for stopping their activities for one week. (Can you imagine that? crazy!) People were counting on this hospital. People needed this hospital, so when the hospital closed, they felt “let down”, they felt “abandoned”, they felt the hospital failed to meet their needs!


Now, how about answering some questions with the phrasal verb let down? Check the questions below and leave your answers in the comments. I will answer the questions as well, and leave the audio for you to listen to.

1. How would you feel if your best friend let you down?

I would be very upset. It is not nice when a close friend lets you down. But nobody is perfect, so I would give him or her a second chance.

2. When you are working in a group, what is one thing everyone should do so that the group is not let down?

I think it is important to deliver your share in the project. This was the number one problem I had in college. People let me down for not doing their part.

3. When was the last time you let somebody down?

Tough question.  A friend expected me to be at her wedding. I couldn’t make it. I definitely let her down. Even though I had a reason for not being there, she was really disappointed.

4. Do you think it is ok for parents to let their kids down? What kind of situations do you think are unacceptable?

I think it is ok. Parents are human beings, they are not perfect. I guess the one situation that I feel it is unacceptable is when they fail to show love. That’s definitely unacceptable.

5. Do you think the government from your country has let people down? In what aspect?

Absolutely. My government has let millions of people down.  Our government is very corrupt and fails to deliver basic projects.


Now I want to see your answers.


I hope you like this post! Share it with your friends!

Teacher Prix



Priscila Pereira

Starbucks and TV Series lover: juggling with teaching, blogging, and a YouTube life! I’m teacher Prix and I want to help you talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime in English! This blog is for English speakers who are looking for an effective blog. Get inspired by hundreds of different posts for all English levels, so that you can finally learn English easily and effectively on the internet.

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