I cannot figure out how should I recognize usage of these phrasal verbs.

Can I use them interchangeably? For example as in the sentence:

"I chanced upon / came across a new way of exercising."


2 Answers 2


Yes, both phrases can be used interchangeably. Both phrases mean to discover or encounter something unexpectedly or by chance.

These are the definitions from Macmillan Dictionary:

chance upon: to find or see someone or something when you did not expect to
Example: I was browsing in a bookshop when I chanced upon an old friend.

come across: to meet someone, or to find something by chance
Example: I came across a word I’d never seen before.

Also, chance on can be used like chance upon as well. They have the same meaning.


The meaning is very much the same but I'm not sure if they both belong in the same range of styles. "Come across" I'd happily say in a casual conversation. "Chance upon" feels like something I'd expect to read in a book instead.

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