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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

To Come Out on Top

Idiom: To come out on top; used as a verb

First example: Most people in the crowd bet that Diego would lose the championship match because this was the first time for him to play in the city ping-pong tournament. However, Diego had practiced for weeks with his family and friends. After a long and difficult match, he came out on top and got the first-place trophy. The crowd was shocked that Diego was able to defeat the champion from the previous year.

Meaning: “To come out on top” generally means to win a contest or fight. In this case, not many people expected Diego to win. He had never played in the tournament before. But Diego did play a lot with his family and friends to prepare for the match. Even though it was hard, Diego finally won the match and receive the trophy for first place. He came out on top over the previous champion.

Here is another example:

Second example: Several actresses were in competition for the Best Actress Oscar for 2011. All of them had excellent performances in movies that year. But only one of them could come out on top. When the winner was announced, everyone found out who it was: Natalie Portman. Now people are eagerly waiting to hear who the Oscar will go to this year.

Meaning: In this situation, Natalie Portman was one of several actresses who were nominated to win the Best Actress Oscar in 2011. Though five actresses are usually nominated each year, only one can win the award. In 2011, Natalie Portman came out on top, and got the award.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Transitions," which is used in the level 4 Reading classes. For more information, please visit