Let's say you are in a lower level of a performing stage, and the guy you are currently speaking with, which happens to be on the same stage with you, is in a bit far and higher area from you. Then, you ask him,

"why are you down there?"

The question is, why is it still valid to say "down" when it should have been "up" in the first place?

  • 1
    I don't consider that it is valid to say 'down there' if the person is higher than you are! – Kate Bunting May 15 at 12:14
  • I think in your case you would say something like "Why are you down here (with us today)?" Using here instead of there means that you are both in the same lower place, and makes it no longer lower relative to the speaker. – Justin May 15 at 12:40
  • In what circumstances is it valid to ask "why are you down there"? I can't imagine any. – Colin Fine May 15 at 12:45
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    That particular clip shows a funny case because of the shape of the room they're in. The person Harvey was talking to was not on stage, he was in the auditorium. The auditorium slopes upwards, and because the guest is a few rows back, he is actually higher than the stage. However, from the stage, to get into the auditorium you would have to descend (because the first rows of seats are lower than the stage). The room is shaped roughly like a parabola and the language of "up" and "down" doesn't fit that context so well. – Juhasz May 15 at 14:18
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    OK, Got it. "Down" here means "not on the stage but in the auditorium" - which was not what you said in your description. I don't think I've heard it before, but I understand it. – Colin Fine May 15 at 15:54

Directions such as 'up' and 'down' are relative to the speaker:

  1. You are on the ground; another person is on the roof of a house; you wish to know the reason; he or she is above you, so you say 'why are you up there?'.

  2. You are on the ground; another person is at the bottom of a hole, pit, or excavation; you wish to know the reason; he or she is below you, so you say 'why are you down there?'.

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