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  1. I've come to realize.

  2. I have realized.

Could you simplify the meaning of each sentence in very very simple English so that I can get the difference easily. Could you clarify with more examples?

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  • I think there is no real difference. "I've come to realize." - sounds more like I've realized something after a while, that it took time.
    – InitK
    Jul 16, 2015 at 13:36
  • 2
    Often, a specific context can help to show how they can be different. Consider: 1. "I've come to realize that you are wrong on this topic" versus 2. "I have realized that you wrong on this topic". Also, notice that #1 uses a present perfect with the verb "COME", while #2 uses a present perfect with the verb "REALIZE". Also, #1 is sorta foregrounding the info related to "I have come" since it is the matrix clause; but #2 doesn't even have that info related to the verb "come", and it foregrounds the info related to "I have realized" since that is all that it has.
    – F.E.
    Jul 16, 2015 at 16:17

3 Answers 3

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In many contexts there's no real difference. But including come to before the primary verb is effectively a "spatial" figurative usage, implying you have "traveled" some considerable distance (in time, and/or between different widely-separated mental states) before "arriving" at your realization.

Therefore. I have come to realize X would normally be interpreted as meaning it took some time before you realized it (perhaps because initially you didn't want to accept the reality of X). It might help to contrast...

1: He gradually realized it was actually quite simple.
2: He instantly realized it was actually quite simple.
3: He came to realize it was actually quite simple.
4: He gradually came to realize it was actually quite simple.
5: ?He instantly came to realize it was actually quite simple.

...where #1, #3, and #4 are semantically more or less equivalent, but #5 is idiomatically unlikely, to say the least.


A couple more points are worth making. First, neither of OP's examples are likely utterances - you usually realize something [that you didn't know before].

The second point is a bit more subtle. Idiomatically, I realize it's simple usually simply means I am aware [that] it's simple, with no implication that you're having that realization now (or indeed ever had it in the past - you could quite reasonably say I realize you love me, Mum without implying there was ever a time when you didn't know this).

There's probably a connection between the way Simple Present works with realize and the fact that Present Perfect isn't very often used except where the act of realizing is adjectivally modified (as in OP has gradually realized it's not as hard as he first thought). As the name suggests, Present Perfect implies a connection to time of speaking, so that last example implies something like It took me a while to realize this, but eventually [and very recently] I have done so.

There's no real point in referring to the past "act of realizing" unless you want to say something about how that happened - you may as well use Simple Present if it's only relevant that you know it now.

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"I have realised" Implies you have realised something, recently. It also implies you completed your realisation.

"I have come to realise" Implies you have recently been realising something. This realisation is on-going, not sudden but progressive. In contrast with the above, it doesn't explicitly state if you already completed your realisation.


More simply:

"I have realised" Implies recent realisation.

"I have come to realise" Implies a recent progressive realisation.

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Use "have come to realize" when you want to highlight that it has taken you a bit of time or effort before you begin to realize. The sentence "The ambience is not the same as what we have come to expect at the place." also suggests a sense of nostalgia.

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