Come up

A topic 'comes up' if it becomes part of a conversation

Today's story: Netflix password sharing
Explore more: Lesson #548
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Come up

Today’s expression is extremely useful—you’re going to use this all the time, now that you know it. It’s a phrasal verb “come up,” and we use it to talk about when a subject, or a topic, or a person, or a thing, becomes part of some type of conversation.

This is a little tricky to explain. But imagine you have a conversation with friends. You’re out at dinner, whatever. The conversation will have many topics. There will be topics, there will be people, there will be places, all involved in the conversation. When a topic, when a person, when a place, when a thing, becomes part of the conversation, we say, it “comes up” in the conversation.

So you’re out with friends, but you have one friend who’s not there. She cancelled at the last minute. You’re telling her later about the night, you’re telling her about what you talked about. You say, “We talked about lots of stuff. In fact , your name came up in the conversation, too. We were curious how your new job is going.”

Your name came up in the conversation: that means your name became part of the conversation. Someone mentioned it. We talked about. We talked about how you just got a new job and we’re curious how it’s going.

What else might have come up in a conversation among friends? A recent popular movie might come up in conversation. The new Avatar movie came up in conversation with JR and me, recently. I told JR that some movie theaters here in Mexico devoted the whole theater—every screen, all day!—to showing Avatar 2 when it came out. I’m not a big Avatar fan, but nonetheless Avatar came up in conversation between JR and me.

So that’s how you use it with the word “conversation.” Your name came up in the conversation, that new song JR picked last week came up in the conversation, my plans to buy more plants for my apartment came up in conversation, whatever. Topics, people, places, things—if you talk about them, they come up in the conversation.

You can also use this with specific types of conversations. Meetings are a great example. I used to have more meetings than I care to contemplate, back when I worked in business consulting. And there were times I wanted a topic to come up in the meeting, and there were definitely times I did not want a topic to come up in the meeting.

Working in a job like mine was all about balancing priorities. You could not—you simply could not do everything you wanted to do, or everything other people wanted you to do. It was just too much, some stuff had to be delayed or simply not done. That was just how it worked.

So sometimes you would go into a meeting with somebody and you had done four out of five things that person wanted you to do. And in that meeting, you wanted to talk about the four things you had done; you didn’t want to talk about the one thing you hadn’t done. You hope that fifth thing does not come up in the meeting!

You hope that the topic does not become part of the meeting. You want to take the whole hour, the whole 30 minutes, whatever, talking about the four great things you did. You don’t want that last thing to even come up in the meeting. You don’t want it to be part of the conversation, part of the meeting.

Sometimes, though, a meeting has an agenda and every topic will come up. The meeting leader is reading from an agenda, so there’s no chance he’ll forget. If you walk into the meeting late, you might whisper to a colleague, “Has the new project come up yet?” That means, was the new project talked about? Was the new project discussed? And your colleague might whisper back, “No, it hasn’t come up yet. That’s next on the agenda.” It hasn’t come up yet means, it has not yet been part of the meeting.

So you can use this with words like conversation, meeting, discussion, debate, interview, words like that. And, quickly, in today’s lesson, I was giving an example of how people wind up sharing passwords. And in the example I said, often a movie or a show will come up in conversation among friends, and one person doesn’t have Netflix, so that person borrows a password, and three years later, that person loves Netflix and is still using the borrowed password . All because a movie came up in conversation one night.

Quote of the Week

It’s time for a quote of the week. It’s from Nina Bawden, a writer of children’s books. She said, “Children often have a much stronger concept of morality than adults.” Children often have a much stronger concept of morality—of right and wrong—than adults have, so says Nina Bawden.

See you next time!

And that’s all for Plain English today, lesson number 548. Remember to get the full lesson at PlainEnglish.com/548. And remember that on Thursday, we’ll pick this back up with a closer look at Netflix’s new password policies.

And if you want to share your opinion about this, about whether you think this is a good idea, about how you’ll manage in the new era of stricter passwords—come join us in the Plain English Facebook group and share your opinion. You can get there by visiting PlainEnglish.com/Facebook .

See you right back here on Thursday!

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Story: Netflix password sharing