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Thread: "How come"

  1. #1
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    "How come"

    Hello everyone,

    I've recently come across the phrase "how come":

    "How come every time you come around my London London Bridge want to go down..." -Fergie, London Bridge song

    or

    "How come you guys never play poker with us?" - The Friends serial

    So shall we put the words in direct order as in a affirmative sentence? But shall we consider it to be a question or a statement?

    By the way, is it slang? Is it American?

  2. #2
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: "How come"

    "How [does it] come [about that] you guys never play poker with us?"

    or, to use an archaism that wouldn't fit in that context

    How come[s it to pass that] you guys never play poker with us?"

    I'd have to do some research to be sure, but this sounds to me like an Americanism introduced into English by European immigrants - like 'what gives?' and 'by me' (German Was gibt es and bei mir).

    b

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    Re: "How come"

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    "How [does it] come [about that] you guys never play poker with us?"

    or, to use an archaism that wouldn't fit in that context

    How come[s it to pass that] you guys never play poker with us?"

    I'd have to do some research to be sure, but this sounds to me like an Americanism introduced into English by European immigrants - like 'what gives?' and 'by me' (German Was gibt es and bei mir).

    b

    Bobk,

    Thank you for the reply. I would be grateful if you could give me some more details.
    Anna

  4. #4
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    Re: "How come"

    Quote Originally Posted by Anna Xpomoba View Post
    Bobk,
    Thank you for the reply. I would be grateful if you could give me some more details.
    Anna
    Well, Online Etymology Dictionary dates "How come?" to 1848, and my daughter's German dictionary gives me the phrase Wie Kommt es? (with the same meaning). So my guess that this phrased was introduced into AmE by German immigrants (whence it spread to BE) isn't disproved by the facts.

    b

  5. #5
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    Re: "How come"

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Well, Online Etymology Dictionary dates "How come?" to 1848, and my daughter's German dictionary gives me the phrase Wie Kommt es? (with the same meaning). So my guess that this phrased was introduced into AmE by German immigrants (whence it spread to BE) isn't disproved by the facts.
    b
    Nevertheless, THANK YOU!
    Daughters' dictionaries can be very helpful sometimes
    A

  6. #6
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    Re: "How come"

    I think you're right, BobK. "How come" is an Americanism (but I'm ignorant of its derivation)

    I used to hear many times Americans say "How come" in such contexts that it must suggest the meaning "Why"

    e.g. How come you came too late?

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