Come on – you can do it! Phrasal verbs with ‘come’.

by Liz Walter​
As part of an occasional series on the tricky subject of phrasal verbs, this blog looks at ones formed with the verb ‘come’.

If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you already know come from, as it is one of the first things you learn in class:

I come from Scotland/Spain.

You probably also know how to invite someone to enter your home, using come in:

How lovely to see you! Please come in!

Just like these two common phrasal verbs, many others use ‘come’ more or less with its usual meaning of moving or travelling towards someone or something. That makes it easy to guess the meaning of phrasal verbs such as these:

He’s not here at the moment. Why don’t you come back later?

Would you like to come round for lunch tomorrow?

All her family are coming over from Australia.

And here’s another great thing about phrasal verbs with come: none of them can be separated, so you don’t need to worry about that at all!

However, there are some phrasal verbs with ‘come’ that are harder because the meaning is impossible to guess. The following are some of the most common ones, and are worth trying to learn.

If you come across a person, you meet them by chance, and in the same way, if you come across a thing, you discover it by chance:

Tell me if you come across Max anywhere.

I came across a lovely little restaurant.

When we talk about a book, a movie, or a new product coming out, we mean that it is starting to be sold or is ready to be seen:

When is their new smartphone coming out?

When we say that a subject comes up, we mean that someone mentions it:

We were talking about school and the subject of exams came up.

As you know, some phrasal verbs have two particles, and if you come up with an idea, you think of it:

Suzie has come up with a name for the café.

There are a couple of ‘come’ phrasal verbs that are worth learning together with the nouns that follow, because they make such common and natural phrases. For example, we come to a decision, which means the same as ‘make a decision’ and we say that a person, army, country, etc. comes under attack or criticism, meaning ‘is attacked or criticized’.

And finally, if – as in the title of this blog – you tell someone to come on, you are encouraging them to do something, to hurry up, or to try harder.

22 thoughts on “Come on – you can do it! Phrasal verbs with ‘come’.

  1. Luc007

    And of course, “coming out” has now taken a new meaning all of its own. It is nowadays understood in its new acception by the great majority of people, even when “coming out” is not followed by “of the closet” 😉

    1. You are totally correct, but “coming out” has also been extended to mean “revealing a secret identity” or otherwise revealing an unknown fact. For instance, an intelligence agent might “come out” as a spy, or a tour guide might “come out” as an advocate for a certain point of view.

  2. Murat

    There are some others like “come to terms” and “come around”, which “comes to my mind” in this context.

    Thank you for the post!

  3. Ahmed Basha

    Will the Use of come across have the same meaning in the following sentences:He came across as a very intelligent student and He came across the missing dog on his way to the party.

  4. Liz Walter

    Hi Ahmed. No, these are different: the example with the dog is the one I described in the blog, meaning ‘to discover’, but the other one is a three-word phrasal verb. If you ‘come across as’ something, that is how you appear to other people. Look out for my blog on three-word phrasal verbs, coming up soon!

  5. Liz Walter

    Hi Jackiie. Yes, ‘come over’ is a phrasal verb too, and it has several different meanings. One of them is the same as ‘come across as’: ‘He comes over as rather arrogant’. Actually, you can use both ‘come across’ and ‘come over’ without ‘as’ if you follow them with an adverb: ‘She came across/over very well on the TV show.’

    1. Mali

      is that richness or poorness of English expressing different meanings with one word such as you meant one of them is as a phrasal verb ”come over”.?

      1. Liz Walter

        I’ll have to leave that for you to decide! But many languages have polysemous words, i.e. words with two or more meanings.

  6. Pingback: Phrasal verbs | ELT Infodump

    1. Liz Walter

      Yes, but it depends on the context. Usually, we would say ‘A friend of mine has come to help me out.’ We’d only say ‘come up’ if the person has literally come either somewhere higher or somewhere to the north of their usual place. Occasionally people say ‘come up’ to a big city such as London even if they are not moving north.

  7. Pingback: Verb To COME - Learn English Now

  8. michael

    how about to ‘come away’ meaning that something got detached from its original point of attachment? i.e. ‘the magnet came away from the fridge door’?

    1. Liz Walter

      See the end of the article: And finally, if – as in the title of this blog – you tell someone to come on, you are encouraging them to do something, to hurry up, or to try harder.
      So for example, you can say ‘Come on, you need to work harder!’
      You can also use it when it’s time to go somewhere: ‘Come on! We don’t want to be late.’

Leave a Reply