Looking for some explanations, it seems that the use of 'out' in some phrases is just a thing we need to accept, there is no rule around that. Is that true?

If yes, how can I know when to use the 'out' in a phrase?

For instance:

(...) as John brought out in the comments.

Why not simply 'brought'? How do I supposed to know that I should use the 'out' in the end?

  • This is a particularly awkward example - superficially it seems that all native speakers would automatically realise "out" has to be there because brought out is a phrasal verb. But it could just as easily be something John brought into the discussion. And it's not that obvious why you can definitely bring things into a discussion, but quite possibly not into the comments. Jan 10 '14 at 0:15
  • Welcome to ELL! On ELL it's important that you cite your quotes so we can give you a meaningful response to your question which takes into account the context of the text you are interested in. Can you please cite your quote in the question? Thanks!
    – Matt
    Jan 10 '14 at 3:15

Using simple words correctly in English is not simple, even though it seems so. Simple words usually have several subtle different meanings.


... as John brought out in the comments.

Why not just brought? Why brought out?

The reason is because brought out has different meaning from brought. Brought out is the past tense of bring out; and bring out is a phrasal verb, meaning "to reveal or expose" or "to introduce (a debutante) to society".

How to know when to use which?

As you suspect, there are no simple rules. Trying to memorize phrasal verbs and idioms could help, though I personally not recommend it. As far as I know, the best way to cope with them is to immerse in the language. This means that you need to listen and read a lot, as well as to speak and write a lot. The more you use the language, the deeper you can develop senses of these simple words, and a better chance to understand them and use them precisely.

  • As a side note, when a sequence of word co-occur quite often, it is usually called a collocation. Jan 9 '14 at 16:23

"Out" adds an additional component of "display/highlight/show"

By way of an example: I bring my wallet with me everywhere, but I rarely bring it out.

To complicate things a little bit, "bring out" can mean "find out" or "pull/draw out."

In your "comments" example, "brought out" means "he found it and showed it." But if it where "[...] John brought to the comments," this would mean he had it with him when he arrived and then offered it.

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