Query: Origin of "How come?"

Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Thu Dec 5 02:44:59 UTC 2002

In support of Dennis' suggestion, a quick search on the LION (Literature Online) database shows the form to be fairly common in Early Modern English (before we were burdened with do-support).

-----Original Message-----
From:   Dennis R. Preston [mailto:preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU]
Sent:   Wed 12/4/2002 1:57 PM
Subject:             Re: Query: Origin of "How come?"

Well, I would guess it comes from "How come you to (they to, etc...)"
before do-support took over in English. (Then you don't have to
propose so much funny deletion).


   I've received a query about the origin of the expression "How
come?" as in "How come nobody thought of calling home?"

    I assume "How come?" arose by shortening from "How does/did it
come about that...?" Or am I missing something here?

Gerald Cohen

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 353-9290

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