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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Come to Terms With

Idiom: to come to terms with: used as a verb

First example: The economic situation of the past few years has been hard for people in most countries around the world. Unemployment is high all over the world, and people have much less money to spend. In the beginning, people thought that the economy would get better in a year or two. Now, however, these people are coming to terms with the realization that world economy may take several years to make a complete recovery. People have started to make serious adjustments in their lifestyle as they accept just how long it might be for a full recovery.

Meaning: “To come to terms with” means “to accept.” It is almost always used to refer to a negative situation that needs to be accepted. In the example above, it describes the poor economy the world has been facing for the last few years. Originally, people believed that the period would be short: a year or two. Now they realize that they will have to deal with the difficult economic situation for a lot longer. The adjustments the people have started making show they have come to terms with how long the poor economy may last.

Here is another example:

Second example:

Jessie: Hi Professor Martin, I’d like to talk about my grade with you.

Professor Martin: Ok, what’s on your mind?

Jessie: I needed a ‘C’ to get credit for the class, but you gave me a ‘D.’

Professor Martin: Hmmm, let me look at your grades. Oh, I see why. You missed several classes, only turned in half of your assignments, and skipped a couple of tests. When you turned in the work, you did well on it, but all of the zeros really affected your grade.

Jessie: Well, since you know I can do the work, can’t you change my grade? I really need to pass this class. My parents are going to be upset if I don’t get credit for it.

Professor Martin: Of course I can’t. That wouldn’t be fair to the other students. They worked hard to make sure they passed the class. You have to come to terms with the fact that you’ll need to take the course again if you want credit for it. Next time, make sure you come to class regularly and complete all of the work you’re supposed to do.

Meaning: In this situation, Jessie asks Professor Martin to change her grade. According to Jessie, she knows how to do the work, so she should get a higher grade, even though she didn’t complete all of the assignments. The professor has a different view and feels he must be fair to all of the students. Professor Martin tells Jessie she must come to terms with her poor grade and repeat the class if she hopes to get credit for the course.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Savvy," which is used in the level 5 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

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