I explain four phrasal verbs with “come up:” “come up against,” “come up for,” “come up to,” and “come up with.” [See also: Phrasal verb: Come up]


Come up against (something)

1. (inseparable) To have to deal with a problem.
  • “We came up against some difficulties when the investigation began.”
  • “I haven’t come up against anything I couldn’t handle.”

Come up for (something)

1. (inseparable) To reach the time at which something should happen.

Its use is more formal.

a. Something can come up for renewal/review/sale.
  • “The contract will come up for renewal next month.”
  • “Every year around 50,000 houses come up for sale.”
b. Or come up for discussion/debate.
  • “The issue regarding waste removal came up for discussion in our last meeting.”
  • “I can only hope he had enough time to prepare before the matter comes up for debate.”

Come up to (something)

1.   (inseparable) To reach the usual or necessary standard.
  • “I think it’s very creative but unfortunately it doesn’t come up to my expectations.”
Similar expressions: “Meet” or “Come up to”

This is very similar to “meet” when it means “to fulfil or satisfy.”

  • “It doesn’t meet my expectations.”
  • “If you’re not going to meet her needs, you may as well break up.”

Come up with (something)

1. (inseparable) To suggest or think of an idea or plan.

  • “They came up with a lot of great ideas to improve work efficiency.”
  • “Don’t worry. We’re going to come up with some fantastic solutions and go home early!”

2. (inseparable) To find or produce something that is needed, usually money.

  • “And tell me how you’re going to come up with $10,000 before next Tuesday?”
  • “As long as you come up with the money, I’ll be happy.”

Related Expressions

“Be coming up” 
– To be happening soon.

  • “The results are coming up soon.”
  • “Don’t forget! His birthday is coming up soon.”

“Coming right up” 
– To say that something will be served or delivered very quickly, usually by a server.

  • “Grilled cheese sandwich coming right up!”
  • “Yes, your coffee will be coming right up.”

“Come up with the goods” 
– (informal) To produce what is wanted.

  • “We’ll just wait and see if they’re able to come up with the goods.”

“Come up for air” 
– (informal) To raise one’s head out of the water in order to breathe.

  • “She couldn’t hold her breath any longer and eventually came up for air.”
  • “It’s just a matter of time before they come up for air.”

Original list: 8 February 2021