Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you know how to use the expression “how come?” and do you know what it means?

Today find out how this phrase is different from “Why?” and how to use it naturally like native English speakers do.

This topic came from a question from a listener.

Here is our listener’s question:


Hi Lindsay and Michelle

“How are you doing?

Thank you for answering my questions. It is so good to have you to answer my questions kindly and thoroughly.

Here is my question: what are the different kinds of asking questions with “How come”. I heard it in conversations in movies and I am interested in the meaning when it applys to the question. I wonder if this expression has other meaning or applications. I really appreciate your time and your kindly answer.

Have a good Fall”

Masoume from Iran


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What does it mean?

“How come?” means “Why?”


Who uses it and when?

  • Kids: When their mother says “you can’t have another chocolate” they might say “How come??!!”
  • Adults in casual conversation with friends:
    • A: “I don’t think I can make it to the party this weekend.”
    • B: “Oh bummer how come?”

When do we NOT use it?

Other ways to say it:

  • “Why?” “Why is that?”
  • “What’s the reason for that?”
  • “Why would that be?”
  • “What’s that about?”


Have you tried using “how come?” yet?

Try to use it and let us know how it goes.

Leave your questions below.

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