“Try to narrow down your choices through process of elimination.”

English Lesson: Try to narrow down your choices through process of elimination.

You're tutoring a child in math. You're giving him advice on how to answer multiple choice questions on a test, so you say this.

Try to narrow down your choices through process of elimination.

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narrow down (choices or a list)

"Narrowing down" a list means to get rid of some of the items on the list. "Narrowing down" a list is usually considered to be a good thing, because it makes it easier for you to make a decision when there are fewer choices.

Here are some of the words most commonly used after "narrow down":

  • narrow down a list
  • narrow down your choices
  • narrow down the suspects (of a crime)
  • narrow down the possibilities

process of elimination

"Process of elimination" is a method of solving a problem or deciding something. It means taking out all of the choices that are not possible, so that only the good choices are left. On a multiple-choice test question, you can usually use "process of elimination" to get rid of some answers which are obviously not possible. That allows you to find the correct answer more easily or to make an educated guess.

Test-taking is the topic that people most commonly use "process of elimination" to talk about, but it can also be used in other situations in which someone is trying to figure something out. For example:

  • The detective Sherlock Holmes used process of elimination to solve mysteries in a series of detective novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • If you're trying to fix a broken computer, you might try to fix it using process of elimination: replacing one part at a time to see where the problem is.

The word "through" often works together with the phrase "process of elimination". The meaning is similar to "with" or "using":

I've picked three candidates through process of elimination.

A lot of people were able to guess the names of the winners through process of elimination.

Notice that "process of elimination" doesn't use "the" or "a". It's just "process of elimination".