Which of the following phrases is correct: "to come to mind" or "to come to one's mind"?

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

If not, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?


3 Answers 3


We do not typically say this phrase with "one's" in it. Just use "come to mind," in whatever tense suits the context. Really, you won't hear it any other way.

An example:

"Joe, can you think of any way to make this meatloaf taste good?"

"Hmm. Gosh, no. Nothing's coming to mind."

This is probably the most common way of using the phrase, as an equivalent to "think of something/anything." ("Hmm. Gosh, no. I can't think of anything.")

  • Agree completely.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 3:44
  • So, would it be right to say "[Whatever] comes to mind to me"? Better than saying "[Whatever] comes to my mind"?
    – Diana
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 11:57

Modifying my answer to better reflect the question...

They mean the same thing, and is a generic statement meaning approximately "it occurs to me." That being said, neither form is commonly used; the typical way to express this in this form is "It comes to mind...", leaving off any possessive.

  • "It comes to one's mind that there are many ways to skin a cat."
  • "It comes to my mind that there are a great many ways to skin a cat."
  • "It comes to mind that there are a great many ways to skin a cat."

In response to @Epiphany, the use of "What comes to one's mind" is not to expand the meaning to known or unknown persons ("ones") who may or may not be present to have something occur to. For this to be the meaning would require mind-reading -- how do you know it occurs to someone else that such and such might be the case?

The "It comes to mind" expression has always been an alternative way to express the idea that some intuition or inspiration has come to a person -- others are not involved.

  • I beg to differ... see my answer.
    – Epiphany
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:31
  • Although you can stretch a point to say they mean the same thing, the use of "one's" or "my" is not usual or common. Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 9:36

'Come to mind' makes reference to only your own mind.

'Come to one's mind' would be an expanded reference to other minds as well, self-inclusive, and means a like thought preceived by many others given the same stimulus.

  • Wouldn't you also say "It comes to mind..." if you expect it to come to anybodies mind (at least everybody having the same information). I mean, to any imagined listener/reader, not only yourself. While "It comes to one's mind..." refers to a thought/idea that comes to the mind of a specific person.
    – skymningen
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 12:47

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