Came or Come: Which Is Correct? (Helpful Examples)

The past tense in English isn’t something that’s easy to learn. Different verbs follow different rules, and the only way to truly understand them all is by memorizing each one individually. This article will look into the past tense of “come” and how you can write it.

Came or Come: Which Is Correct?

“Came” is correct when using the simple past tense, meaning someone or something came at a certain time in the past and is over now. “Come” is correct when using the past, present, or future perfect tenses, meaning something started “coming” before and may continue in the present.

Came or come - which is correct?

You might not quite understand what we mean yet. It’s especially difficult with the verb “to come” because one of the past tense forms is also “come.” Some examples might ease you in:

  • I came to see you yesterday.
  • I have come to tell you the good news!

“Came” is the simple past tense, with no further adjustments needed to have it meet the grammar rules.

“Come” is the past participle of “come,” which needs an auxiliary verb like “have” before it to turn it into the perfect tense. There are three perfect tenses, and the one that you saw in the above example is known as the present perfect tense.

Past ParticipleCome

When Is “Came” Correct?

So, let’s look closer at when we can use the simple past tense verb, “came.”

“Came” is correct when using the verb “to come” in the past. That means that someone or something has started and finished “coming” in the past. There is nothing more we can do to affect the thing that happened.

The simple past tense is precisely that, simple. It’s the easiest past tense form to use, and if it was the only tense we needed to worry about, it would make past tense forms in English much easier to use.

Example Sentences Using “Came”

Some examples might help you to understand how “came” works best:

  1. I came to see the demolition site, but I was already too late.
  2. He came to see me yesterday, but he didn’t have much to say.
  3. We came to watch the performance, and it was a masterpiece!
  4. They came by to say hello. We weren’t in, and now we feel really bad!
  5. I came to visit you, but you didn’t want to answer the doorbell!
  6. She came by this afternoon, which was a pleasant surprise!

“Came” works when talking about “coming” in the past tense. We use it to show that someone or something has already “came” and there is nothing more that can affect that in the present.

When Is “Come” Correct?

“Come” is much more difficult to understand because it is the past participle of “come.” Past participles are notoriously more difficult to use than the simple past tense, so make sure you’re paying attention.

“Come” is correct as when we include an auxiliary verb before it to turn it into a perfect tense. There are three perfect tense options, and each one requires a different form of “have.” We can use them to talk about things that have started happening but can still change.

The three perfect tenses can be written as follows:

  • Past perfect: I had come
  • Present perfect: I have come
  • Future perfect: I will have come

Each tense works slightly differently from the one before.

The past perfect tense is rare, but it talks about something that has happened in the past and finished in the past; however, it is possible for us to still have some effect or impact on its outcome in the present.

The present perfect is the most common, and we use it to talk about something that started happening in the past and is still continuing in the present.

The future perfect is between the two, and we include “will” as a secondary auxiliary verb before “have” to show an intention or thing that might happen in the future based on the actions we carry out in the present.

Example sentences using “Come”

Some examples might help you to understand the perfect tenses slightly better. We’ll also split them into sections to help you really get your head around them.

Past Perfect

  1. I had come by a minute too late, which I always regret looking back.
  2. I had come to see you, but there wasn’t much for me to say then.

“Had come” is the past perfect tense. We use it to show that someone has “come” in the past and has finished whatever journey they took. However, there is still something that might impact it in the present.

Present Perfect

  1. I have come to tell you that there’s more to this than you realize.
  2. I have come to take you away!

“Have come” is the present perfect. It works by saying we started “coming” in the past, and we’ve just arrived to carry out our next action in the present.

Future Perfect

  1. I will have come to a conclusion by the end of the day if you give me time.
  2. I will have come by one too many times if I’m not careful.

“Will have come” is the future perfect tense, and it often refers to a hypothetical situation that might happen based on our present actions.

“Have Came” Vs. “Have Come”

Now that we’ve touched on all the different forms, this section should be much easier to figure out.

“Have come” is correct because it is the present perfect tense, and we use “have” as the auxiliary in this way. “Have came” is incorrect and should never be used as “came” is the simple past tense, and no auxiliary verb is required in the sentence.

  • Correct: I have come to see you.
  • Incorrect: I have came to see you.

Final Thoughts

“Came” is the simple past tense, which is much simpler to use (hence the name). We don’t need auxiliary verbs, and it simply means something happened in the past. “Come” is the perfect tense, which comes with more rules, and an auxiliary verb like “have” is required.

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