This morning right after I had two classes, my fellow teacher of English, who also had just had two periods, approached me and asked me about whether her understanding of the problem with a sentence in her student's piece of writing was correct. The sentence we discussed goes, "The idea to set up a company to offer more interactive events came up." In her view, the big problem with it is that the sentence is a top-heavy sentence. I agreed with her on this point, but I pointed out that the structure of "an idea to do something" used in this sentence is also incorrect. I said that I would use "the idea of doing something" instead. And I also said that I am not sure of the sentence structure of "An idea comes up.", used by this student, but that I am sure we can instead say in English "Someone comes up with an idea." or "Someone hits upon an idea." or "An idea comes to somebody or somebody's mind." Then I got my tablet computer connected to the Internet and after a lot of searching online found that my comments are correct. However, I failed to confirm the correctness of the structure of "An idea comes up." or prove its incorrectness. Would you please tell me whether you native speakers of English say "An idea comes up." to mean that suddenly an idea occurs to someone?
Thanks a lot.
Last edited by ohmyrichard; 30-Oct-2013 at 14:47.
So, you mean that "an idea pops into a mind" means that the idea is sudden while "An idea comes up." may not have this meaning, right? And do you mean that "An idea comes up." is used by native speakers of English? Thanks.
Please note no one said that it was WRONG. They only stated a preference for expressing that idea differently.
If that student came here and said "I was marked down for this. Is it wrong?" we would say "No, it's not wrong. It's not the most natural way to say it, but it's not wrong."
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
"An idea came up at the meeting." is not unnatural to me. Nor is, "He came up with an idea".
It does sound strange in the present tense though.