Expressing downward trends

1. To decrease
2. To make something decrease
3. A decrease
4. When something stops decreasing

1. To decrease
decrease verb [intransitive] to become less in number or amount:
• The average rainfall has decreased by around 30 percent.
• The total number of people who are unemployed has decreased slightly.
• After radiotherapy, the number of tumours decreased significantly.
• The effectiveness of the drug gradually decreases.
go down phrasal verb to decrease:
• The percentage of fat in our diets has gone down.
• As a result of the improvements, complaints from customers went down by more than 70%.
Grammar: Decrease is more formal than go down.
If you want to say that something ‘has decreased’, you can say that it is down, for example: Inflation is down to 4%.
decline verb [intransitive] a formal word meaning to decrease. Decline is used about numbers or amounts, and also about the level or standard of something:
• In rural areas, the standard of living continued to decline.
• Salaries have effectively declined by around 4.5%.
• The rate of inflation has declined sharply in the past year. (=quickly and by a large amount)
• Support for the government is steadily declining.
• The city has declined in importance.
fall / drop verb [intransitive] to decrease, especially by a large amount:
• The number of tigers in the wild has fallen to just over 10,000.
• At night, the temperature drops to minus 20 degrees.
• Profits fell from £98.5 million to £76 million.
• In May, the price of coffee dropped by over 20%..
plunge / plummet verb [intransitive] to suddenly decrease very quickly and by a very large amount:
• Gas prices have plunged 31 percent in less than a week.
• Sales of red meat are plummeting.
• Climate change could cause global temperatures to plummet.
halve verb [intransitive] to decrease by a half:
• He expects the number of farms to halve by 2020.
• In 1965, 49% of Canadians smoked. This figure has more than halved.
diminish verb [intransitive] to decrease to a low number, amount, or level. Diminish is used about numbers or amounts. It is also used when saying that a feeling becomes less strong, or that something becomes less important:
• The numbers of fish have diminished over the years.
• The population of the town diminished from 32,000 to 9,000 between 1871 and 1913.
• The pain gradually diminished.
• Although Campbell’s influence had diminished, he continued to speak out against the war.
dwindle verb [intransitive] to gradually decrease until there is very little left of something. Dwindle is used about numbers or amounts. It is also used when saying that something becomes less popular, less important etc:
• The birds’ numbers have slowly dwindled, until there are now only about 600 left in the world.
• Traffic along the canals dwindled during the 20th century.
• Support for the theory is dwindling.

2. To make something decrease
reduce verb [transitive] to make something smaller in size, number or amount:
• The army was greatly reduced in size.
• The number of serious accidents has been reduced by a quarter.
• Doctors are urging people to reduce the amount of salt in their diet.
• Using new technology will help to reduce costs.
• Washing your hands helps to reduce the risk of infection.
• The ability to communicate cheaply over long distances has reduced the need for workers to commute to offices.
lower verb [transitive] to reduce the amount or level of something:
• It is a basic rule in economics that if you want people to buy more of your products, you lower the price.
• The voting age was lowered to 18.
• They decided to lower interest rates by a quarter of a percent.
• The drug is used to lower blood pressure.
• Some colleges have had to lower their standards.
• To cool, the motor forces air out of the box, so lowering the temperature.
Lower is used especially in more formal contexts, for example when writing about politics, business, or technical matters. Bring down is less formal.
bring down phrasal verb to reduce something such as prices or costs, or reduce the level of something:
• They used cheaper materials in an effort to bring down costs.
• The wage freeze was part of a campaign to bring down inflation.
cut verb [transitive] to reduce something such as prices, costs, time, or money, usually by a large amount:
• Companies are constantly looking for ways to cut their costs.
• Shell is to cut the price of petrol by 18p a gallon from midnight tomorrow.
• The new service will cut the journey time from London to Manchester to just over 2 hours.
• The working week has been cut from 39 hours to 35.
halve verb [transitive] to reduce something by a half:
• Costs were halved.
• The new drugs have halved the number of deaths among AIDS patients.
relieve / ease verb [transitive] to make pain or feelings less unpleasant:
• Doctors are allowed to give drugs to relieve pain, even if they shorten life.
• Accordingly, they hired more telephone representatives to relieve the pressure on employees who handle customer complaints and inquiries.
• Making a joke can help to relieve the tension.
alleviate verb [transitive] a formal word meaning to reduce pain or suffering, or make a problem less serious:
• Gentle regular exercise helps to alleviate the problem.
• Changes in diet can help to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

3. A decrease
decrease noun [uncountable and countable] used when something happens less than it used to:
• There has a been a significant decrease in the number of deaths from lung cancer.
• In August there was a slight decrease in the rate of unemployment.
• Latest figures show an overall 27% decrease in crime in the area since the project began.
reduction noun [uncountable and countable] used when the price, amount, or level of something is made lower:
• A small reduction in costs can mean a large increase in profits.
• There has been a significant reduction in traffic.
• Over the last few years there has been a dramatic reduction in (=surprisingly large) the number of people arrested for drink-driving.
cut noun [countable] used when a government or company reduces the price, amount, or level of something:
• price cuts
• tax cuts
• pay cuts
• The company is planning further job cuts.
• There have been major cuts in government spending on defence.
• The state of California introduced new laws requiring drastic cuts in (=very big cuts)
air pollution from automobiles.
• The bank announced a 1 per cent cut in interest rates.
drop / fall noun [countable] used when a number or amount goes down, especially by a large amount:
• The company reported a 35% drop in profits.
• Researchers found that the number of trees had gone down from 506 to 261, a drop of 48 percent.
• Spain has suffered a sharp fall in its birth rate. (=a sudden very large fall)
decline noun [singular,uncountable] a formal word, used when the number, amount, level, or standard of something goes down:
• There has been a gradual decline in the number of homeless people.
• Television is often blamed for the decline in moral standards in our society.
• There has been a slight decline in the level of violence.
• Four years ago, there were 580 people living on the island, but there are now only 337.
That is a decline of 42 percent.

4. When something stops decreasing
level off / out phrasal verb to stop decreasing and remain at the same level:
• The population dropped from a peak of 800,000, levelling off in 1999 at 650,000.
• Latest figures suggest inflation will level out at 2.4% after a year at over 3%.
bottom out phrasal verb to reach the lowest point, and stop decreasing any more:
The decline in car sales finally showed signs of bottoming out in September.
• There is no evidence that the recession has bottomed out yet.

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