Phrases (2)

There are more “go” phrases, but those are the most common. That brings us to “come.” Again, the word has many meanings depending on which adverb is used with it.

Come out obviously means to leave the inside and proceed to the outside, as viewed from out outside. The phrase is also used to describe the first appearance of a book or movie. And it means to make public something about oneself that had been confidential, such as one’s sexual preference, often expanded into “come out of the closet.”

Come through means to do what is needed or expected, as in “he came through in the clutch.” But when used about a quality or meaning, it means to be expressed: “a writer whose personality comes through clearly in her writing.” But when applied to an idea or expression, it means to be communicated, as in “the message that came through loud and clear.”

Come across is to meet or find something or someone by chance, as in “I came across these old photos recently.” Another meaning: of a person, to appear or sound in a specified way or give an impression: “He’s always come across as a decent guy.”

Come off has far and away the most meanings: One is to acquit oneself, to fare, as in “He came off well in the contest.” Another is to appear or seem: “He comes off as a lucky man.” Still another is to succeed, as in “A television series that never came off.” Yet another is to express anger at what someone has said or done: “Where does he come off anyway?”

Come off is used several other ways, but that’s plenty.

Little wonder foreigners have such a hard time with American English. I wonder that we native speakers manage. Come to think of it, we don’t always.

More next time.

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