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I've always had this problem phrasing this sentence.

what can I put in this gap?

'' when I was reading an article, I .... this new phrase/word which I don't know the meaning''

when I was reading a text,

  • I faced this new phrase/word
  • I came across this new phrase/word
  • I ran into this phrase/word

or maybe there is a better way of asking that I'm not aware of.

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2 Answers 2

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The usual way of saying this is

When I was reading an article, I saw this phrase/word

which is a statement of fact and has no connotation for difficulty of understanding which would need to be added context.

your other alternatives "came across" and "ran into" work also

When I was reading an article, I came across this phrase.
When I was reading this article, I ran into this word.

"Ran into" would have the implied meaning of "difficulty in understanding".

I ran into this word which I didn't understand.

Using "faced" would not be correct eventhough you were "facing" the article.

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  • the verb ''face'' mostly followed by problems? I mean does it have a specific connotation?
    – Masih K
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 17:59
  • Yes, "faced" can be used when talking about a problem but then the context is usually mentioned also "I faced a problem when...", "I faced great difficulty when..." meaning you came "face-to-face" with something, "faced" by itself, it does not necessarily mean "there is a problem" as in "I faced north while walking."
    – Peter
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 18:20
  • An alternative to saw would be stumbled across, which likewise states a mere fact and makes no connotation about difficultly.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 2:53
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Both "came across" and "ran into" are fine.

The idiom you might want in your first example is "came face-to-face with", but this is a metaphor usually applied to meeting a person, so using it for an object is figurative and not always appropriate.

While shopping at the market I came face-to-face with my old flame from high school, and I was so surprised I couldn't think of anything to say.

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  • Yes, to come across, run across, find
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 18:22

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