When someone says "I came to realise...", I know it can mean he realised it gradually.

Can it mean one day he suddenly realised something? For example,

One week later, I came to realise that I missed my appointment.

If this is wrong, can I ask how to express the meaning of I realised something very late?

For example, normally people realise they missed an appointment on the day or next day, but I realised it one week later.

  • Your dictionary provides many definitions and usages of the verb come. Which one do you think applies to the usage in "come to realize"? For instance, the Collins Dictionary, which I think is not censored by any government, has as definition number 14: "(tr; takes an infinitive) to be given awareness ⇒ I came to realize its enormous value." What dictionary do you use? Nov 17, 2016 at 9:42
  • @P.E.Dant I think what you are saying is that it can mean suddenly realised something but to be honest, I won't know that by reading 14.
    – EmmaXL
    Nov 17, 2016 at 10:01
  • "I came to realise/understand/see...." implies over a period of time but doesn't specify what period. It would more commonly be used after: "Over/during the next few days/weeks/months, I came to....." than "one week/month later". Nov 17, 2016 at 10:36
  • @RonaldSole Thank you for letting me know. May I ask what phrase can I use to express 'suddenly realised something after a period of time such as a week/month later'?
    – EmmaXL
    Nov 17, 2016 at 10:49
  • 3
    Well, we should close questions as off-topic if they're entirely answerable by a dictionary. The definition P. E. Dant quoted, however, doesn't really answer the question, so that doesn't seem to apply here. At any rate, if we're going to recommend dictionaries to learners, we should probably link to learner's dictionaries when we can, rather than to dictionaries written for native speakers, like Collins Dictionary.
    – user230
    Nov 17, 2016 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


To express realizing something much later on

Only after some time was I able to realize...
I realized much later that...

the amount of time is usually a modifying phrase. It is implied that the realization came somewhat suddenly since if the realization was progressive one might use

Over a period of time, I was able to realize...

For something really sudden

only later did it hit me
some time afterwards I suddenly realized

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