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How do we use the idiom "come down on"?

Looked up a dictionary and found the following:

come down on (someone or something)

  1. To scold or reprimand one harshly. It was a mistake, so don't come down on him too hard, OK?

  2. To establish one's opinion or view as being in support of a particular side of an issue. And where do you come down on this issue, sir? I think the jury is going to come down on the side of the plaintiff.

  3. To actively oppose someone or something or attempt to prevent or abolish something. This issue is unjust, and as your mayor I promise to come down on it.

The issue is that I am wondering if we can say come down on something on someone or come down on someone on something

He came down on me on the argument I made against her.

There's no usage rule, so I thought this made sense, but I am not sure. What do you think?

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While your example:

He came down on me on the argument I made against her.

would I think be understood, I don't think it is the usual way that idiom would be employed. More likely would be:

  • He came down on me about the argument I made against her.
  • He came down on me over the argument I made against her.
  • He came down on me for the argument I made against her.

There is no particular logic that I know of why "about" or "over" should be used rather than "on" except perhaps that the repeated use of "on" feels confusing or awkward. I believe that I have heard "about" more often than "over" in such a construction.

"in regard to" could be used instead of "about" but "come down on" is a rather informal usage, and "in regard to" is a bit formal, so there is a bit of a style clash using the two together.

Other words might be used to connect "come down on" with the subject of the scolding or discussion.

I don't recall ever having heard "come down on" used in sense 3 above. But that doesn't mean I deny that some people use it that way.

  • I was just about to answer that I thought "for" would be a more normal preposition here: 'He came down on me for the argument I made against her' similar to the usage in 'He came down on me for arguing.' I also have never heard it in sense three. – Katy Aug 23 at 17:04
  • @katy Yes "for" seems a reasonable usage here also. I will add it to the answer, and thank you. – David Siegel Aug 23 at 17:05

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