Is it formally or grammatically correct or appropriate to use the word "come" - followed by a date or time - in the beginning of a sentence?

For example : "Come June and things started falling apart".

If not then what should be the appropriate or acceptable version?

  • 4
    I would say "yes", but I think the correct structure should really be "Come June, things started falling apart" (no and) because it basically means "When June arrived".
    – stangdon
    Jul 1 at 19:05
  • 4
    Or in the future: "Come June, things will start falling apart." Jul 1 at 19:25
  • 2
    I would have thought that you could only use it to refer to the future. The past should be 'When June came...'. Jul 1 at 19:34
  • 2
    @KateBunting This is really hard to find examples of precisely because it's so general, but I have found Google Books examples of uses like "Come Friday, they were forgiven" and "come the first of the month, they were due" and "Come five o'clock he walked back over".
    – stangdon
    Jul 1 at 20:03

Harold Wentworth, American Dialect Dictionary (1944) has this relevant coverage of come followed by a time-related noun:

come ... 3. Used with a term expressing future time, = 'when (that time) comes'; — now oldfashioned.

And Dictionary of American Regional English (1985) has this:

come v ... Intr[ansitive] senses. ... 5 Of a specified time or seasonal event: to arrive, come to pass—used in inverted constr[uction]s. {Survival of arch[aic] subjunc[tive] constr[uction] ...} esp[ecially] S[outh] Midl[and]

"South Midland" refers to a geographical band of the United States that runs approximately east to west from Maryland to northeastern Oklahoma and north to south from the Ohio River Valley to the northern quarter of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Although Wentworth is certainly correct that "come [time frame]" most often occurs in connection with discussions of future events, DARE points out instances in which speakers apply it to past events, such as this one recorded in Georgia/Alabama in 1908:

Come Friday a week ago, I went to see him about it.

meaning that the speaker had gone to see the person on the preceding Friday, which wasn't yet a full week before.

Much more common, however, are instances such as this one (also mentioned by DARE) recorded in Tennessee in 1954:

I'll do that come spring.

meaning that the speaker will do the thing in question when the next spring season arrives. The sentence would be equally valid if the "come spring" component came first:

Come spring, I'll do that.

The particular sentence that the poster asks about is

Come June and things started falling apart.

In colloquial U.S. English, I think, a speaker would most likely not include the "and" in that construction, but otherwise it sounds fine to me, albeit somewhat regional or old-fashioned (as Wentworth puts it) as a way of saying either "When June came, things started falling apart" or "And then June came, and things started falling apart." In writing it without the and, I would add a comma after June:

Come June, things started falling apart.


The relevant definition is

2 c 2 : to come to pass : take place —used in the subjunctive with inverted subject and verb to express the particular time or occasion

There is a rather formal discussion of the grammar in the book Contrastive Studies in Morphology and Syntax.

Any time reference can be used - a day, an hour, a season, etc. Yes, it is normal and acceptable to begin sentences this way, although as a native US English speaker I think it is somewhat informal. Here are some examples from real usage:

Come Friday, they were forgiven.

But come spring, I'm quitting the mill.

Come five o'clock, the atmosphere was just unbelievable

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