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What word would you replace the word "came" in this context to make it a piece of cake to beginers. That seems intransitive, doesn't it. ........

The latest possible lead came as the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 entered its third week, with still no confirmed trace found of the Boeing 777 or the 239 people on board.

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came = was found, in your example. – Kinzle B Mar 22 '14 at 14:54

I think Tyler James Young's answer does fairly well, but I'd also like to suggest "emerged" as another alternative to came. Since you ask for an alternative that is suitable for beginners, "emerged" may collocate nicely with some learners' native language(s).

"Came" is used since it doesn't need to be further explained (by who? how? etc), and I think "emerged" works quite well in this regard too. It also sounds more natural than "arrived" or "appeared".

Using the passive (as suggested in a comment) could potentially cause difficulties for beginners, and so I would avoid it. However, if you think it could be a viable option, try "The latest possible lead was revealed".

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I agree with you. – Kinzle B Mar 22 '14 at 15:42

I interpret this instance of "came" as basically meaning "arrived", but it also covers some of the same ground as "appeared" or the less common meaning of "obtained" to mean "manifested".

An easier example of this usage would be:

Spring came early this year.

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