And that English expression is "come up with." This is a phrasal verb with a broad meaning, but we only use it at a specific time. Broadly speaking, "come up with" simply means to produce something, or to get something. That's it. But we only use "come up with" when someone is under pressure to get that thing.
One very common way to use this phrase is with money. Can you come up with the money? That means, can you find a way to get the money under pressure? For example, if someone asked me for five dollars, I could just reach in my wallet and hand it over. That's easy—no pressure. I would not say "come up with" in that case because it's easy.
But if someone kidnapped me and said I needed to produce five thousand dollars by the end of the day, that's a different story. That's pressure and it's not easy. I would need to come up with the money somehow. It wouldn't be easy and I'd have to produce it under pressure.
Elon Musk had to come up with a lot more than that. He offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion . Just one problem: he didn't have enough money in cash. The question on everyone's mind was this: Would he be able to come up with the money? That means, would he be able to find enough money to deliver on his promise?
When you make an offer like this, you can't just wait around for a few months while you scrape together the money to back up your offer. You need to come up with the money relatively quickly, or nobody will take you seriously. At first, people weren't taking Musk particularly seriously.
But then, guess what he did? He came up with the money. He showed how much of his own cash he would put in and then he got letters of credit from major Wall Street banks, showing they would lend him the rest. He produced—under pressure—the money needed to buy Twitter. He came up with the money.
Another way to use "come up with" is to talk about answers or solutions. One problem with technology in cars is that the technology is out of date soon after the car is sold. We live in an age where software is updated all the time. But if you buy a car today, the software running on the display screen is frozen in time for the entire life of the car. That's a problem. Tesla wanted to sell high-tech cars to high-tech people. They couldn’t sell a car that would be obsolete in a few months' time .
Tesla came up with a great solution: over-the-air updates. That means Tesla would equip the car with a fixed set of cameras, sensors, and screens. Those wouldn't change over time. But the software that makes the car cool could be updated wirelessly all the time. That means Tesla can continuously offer new features not only on new cars, but also to existing owners as well. They were under pressure to produce something—in this case a solution—and they did it. The solution the came up with is very innovative.
Have you watched a quiz show on TV? The most famous quiz show in America is Jeopardy! The host reads a clue, and the contestants have to come up with the answer quickly. There's pressure, there's urgency, and the contestants need to quickly come up with the answer—or, I should say, the question, if you know the rules.
Have you ever gotten to a meeting late? You might need to come up with an excuse. You walk in, the meeting has already started, the person speaking pauses, looks at you, and—what? What do you say? You need to come up with an excuse. Sorry, the copier was jammed. You wouldn't believe the traffic. I got stuck in the elevator. My pet was sick. You're under pressure to produce an explanation or an excuse for why you're late. Can you come up with a believable excuse in time? Oversleeping doesn't count!
Quote of the Week
Every Monday, I select a quote of the week. It's often an English speaker, but not always. Today's is by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. He wrote on of JR's favorite books—"The Alchemist." Here's the quote: "When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too."
See you next time!
That brings us to the end of today's Plain English audio lesson. This was lesson 468, so the lesson continues at PlainEnglish.com/468. That's where you'll find today's step-by-step video lesson, the full transcript, listening exercises, flash cards, and more: PlainEnglish.com/468.
We'll be back on Thursday with another great lesson. See you then!