Can anyone give use cases and examples for

  • Happen to know
  • Came to know
  • Got to know
  • Came across

I always gets confused in their uses.

  • 1
    Why the "American English" tag? British/Canadian/Australian English etc. have the same phrasal verbs and expressions too. Could you provide a few sentences using those expressions and explain what confuses you? – Mari-Lou A Oct 27 '13 at 8:02

Happen to know means something like You might not expect me to know, but I do. It often implies that I have privy knowledge: somebody's told me a secret, or I know about something before it is published. It is quite often a boast "Look at me, I'm special, I know this information which most people don't know", but not always.

Come to know (past: came to know) is a somewhat literary way of saying find out or learn (a fact), or become acquainted with (a person).

Get to know (past: got to know) means become acquainted or better acquainted with (a person). It is also a rather colloquial alternative to come to know (a fact).

Come across (past: came across) means find by chance or find out by chance.

  • Yes, I agree with all those. Another, rather better way of saying that you 'came to know a fact', would be to say something like: 'It came to my notice (or 'it was brought to my notice') that he had a criminal record' – WS2 Oct 27 '13 at 16:46

I don't know if it helps but I have included a few sentences of correct usage of the expressions you mention.

'I happen to know the person you can see in that car.'; 'I came to know him when we were near-neighbours twenty years ago'. (This is less usual) 'I got to know him and his family quite well'. 'I recently came across his name when searching through some old paperwork'.

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