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“practice” and “practise” have the same pronunciation.

Pronunciation:   /ˈpræk.tɪs/

These two words cause confusion because there is a big difference between American English and British English.

American English

In American English, there is only one word: “practice” (with a “c“)
“practice” in American English can act as a noun and a verb. (see examples below)
“practise” (with an “s“) is not a word in American English.

British English

In British English, both words exist:
“practice” (with a “c“) is a noun.
“practise” (with an “s“) is a verb. “practise” exists only in British English.

Practice as a noun

As mentioned above, “practice” can be used as a noun in both American and British English.

Meaning 1:
The act of doing something regularly to improve your skill.
Something that is done regularly. A habit, tradition or custom.

Examples:
I need some writing practice for the English exam.


I am going to football practice tonight.
It is common practice to give gifts at Christmas.

Meaning 2:
A job or business that needs a lot of training.

Examples:
She’s a doctor at a private medical practice.

by stockimages | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mark works for a large legal practice in London.

Expressions with practice as a noun

Expression: to be out of practice
Meaning:
to be performing badly because you are badly prepared.
to be in need of more practice.
Example:
I lost the tennis match because I was out of practice.

Expression: “Practice makes perfect”
Meaning:
We say this to encourage someone to work harder.
Example:
Teacher: “Try again, Mark. Don’t forget that practice makes perfect!”

Practice and practise as a verb

Reminder:
American English only: “practice” can also act as a verb.
British English only: The verb is spelt “practise” (with an “s“)

Meaning 1 as a verb:
to do something regularly to improve your skill.
Examples:
I must practice my French before I go to Paris. (American English)
I must practise my French before I go to Paris. (British English)

Jane practices the piano every week. (American English)
Jane practises the piano every week. (British English)

Meaning 2 as a verb:
to do something regularly. A habit, tradition or custom.
Example:
David practices his religion every day. (American English)
David practises his religion every day. (British English)

Meaning 3 as a verb:
to work in a job or business that needs a lot of training.
Example:
He practiced as a dentist for 20 years. (American English)
He practised as a dentist for 20 years. (British English)

by patrisyu | FreeDigitalPhotos.net Common structures with practice and practise as a verb

practice + ing verb (American English)
practise + ing verb (British English)

Meaning:
to do something regularly to improve your skill.

Examples:
He is practicing catching a ball. (American English)
He is practising catching a ball. (British English)

They are practicing fishing. (American English)
They are practising fishing. (British English)

In this context, the ing form of the verb is a gerund. A gerund is a verb acting as a noun.

Summary Noun

practice is a noun in both American and British English.

Example:
I need more practice before I take the exam.

Verb

American English: practice is also a verb
British English: practise is a verb

Examples:
Jane practices the piano every week. (American English)
Jane practises the piano every week. (British English)

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Practice vs practise - Confusing English words | Vocabulary - YouTube

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“a little” and “a few” are determiners. We write them before a noun.
More specifically, they are quantifiers. They both describe a small quantity or amount of something.

“a few” describes a small quantity of a countable noun.
“a little” describes a small quantity of an uncountable noun.

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

“a few”

Form:
“a few” + countable noun in the plural form

Use:
to describe a small quantity of a countable noun.

Examples:
There are a few peas.

by adamr | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are a few raspberries.

There are a few peaches.

by FreeImages.com/photographer/vierdrie-46406 “a little”

Form:
“a little” + uncountable noun

(Uncountable nouns are always in the singular form.)

Use:
to describe a small quantity of an uncountable noun.

There is a little pasta.

There is a little soup.

There is a little sugar.

What are countable and uncountable nouns?

See my lesson on countable and uncountable nouns for more information.

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When to use "a little" and "a few" | English grammar rules - YouTube

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The following words and phrases are very similar:

finally
at last
lastly
in the end

But the meaning is in fact slightly different. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

finally – Use 1

“finally” presents the last element of a series or list.

Examples:
Mark: What do we need from the supermarket?
Jane: We need eggs, milk, sugar and finally, a frying pan.

First, we need to rent an office. Then we need to buy some desks. Finally we need to recruit a secretary.

finally – Use 2

We use “finally” to express that one has been waiting a long time for something.

Position in a sentence

“finally” goes in the middle position of a sentence.

If the sentence has a main verb, then we put “finally” before the main verb.
Example: The bus finally arrived at midnight.

If the sentence has an auxiliary or modal verb, then we put “finally” after the auxiliary / modal verb and before the main verb.
Example: Andrew has finally bought a new car.

If the sentence has the verb “be” as a main verb (a linking verb), then we put “finally” after the verb “be”.
Example: The baby is finally asleep.

at last

“at last” also expresses that one has been waiting a long time for something. “at last” strongly expresses impatience or inconvenience at the long wait.

Position in a sentence

We can put “at last” at the beginning, middle or end position.

Examples:

Beginning position: At last Mark has passed his degree.
Middle position: Mark has at last passed his degree.
End position: Mark has passed his degree at last.

lastly

“lastly” describes something that comes at the end of a series or list. (This is the same as use 1 of “finally” as described above.)

Examples:
To start with, I drank a cup of coffee. Then I sat down. Lastly, I read the newspaper.

Firstly, the house is too expensive; secondly, it’s in bad condition; thirdly, the location is awful; and lastly, we don’t need a new house.

in the end

“in the end” describes a conclusion after a long process, a lot of problems or after a lot of discussion and analysis.

Examples:
The manager interviewed her 3 times, and in the end he offered her the job.

by franky242 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We couldn’t decide between Paris, Rome or Madrid for our holidays. In the end, we chose Paris.

He isn’t a good driver but he passed his driving test in the end.

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FINALLY, AT LAST, LASTLY and IN THE END | English words - YouTube

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This is an English lesson. It is not a maths lesson! In this lesson, you will learn English vocabulary for the basic mathematical symbols and operations:

“mathematics” is a noun.

Meaning:
The study of numbers, shapes, and space using symbols and rules.
Example: 2 + 2 = 4

The word “mathematics” is often abbreviated to:

  • “math” (American English)
  • “maths” (British English)
Addition

“Addition” is a noun.

Meaning:
The process of adding numbers together to calculate the sum.
Example:  Today we are going to practise addition.

To describe the addition above, we say:
Four plus six equals ten.
or
The sum of four and six is ten.

add

“add” is a verb.

Meaning: To put two or more numbers together to calculate the sum.
Form: add number to number
Example: If you add four to six, you get ten.

Subtraction

“subtraction” is a noun.

Meaning: The process of removing a number from another number.
Example:  Let’s learn subtraction.

To describe the subtraction calculation above, we say:
eight minus three equals five.

subtract

“subtract” is a verb.

Meaning: to remove a number from another number.
Form: subtract number from number
Example: If you subtract three from eight, you get five.

take away

“take away” is a verb also used for subtraction. It is more informal than “subtract”. It is very common.

Form: take number away from number
Example: Take three away from eight. What is the answer?

multiplication

“multiplication” is a noun.

Meaning: The process of multiplying a number.
Example: I’m not very good at multiplication.


To describe the multiplication above, we say:
Six multiplied by four equals twenty four.
or
Six times four equals twenty four.

“product” is a noun.

Meaning: The result of a multiplication calculation.
Example: The product of six and four is twenty four.

multiply

“multiply” is the verb for multiplication.

Form: multiply number by number
Example: If you multiply six by four, you get twenty four.

division

“division” is a noun.

Example:  Today, we are going to learn division.


To describe the division calculation above, we say:

fifteen divided by three equals five.

divide

“divide” is a verb.

Form: divide number by number
Example: If you divide fifteen by three, you get five.

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Pronunciation:     /bæk/

“back” is a very common word in English. We use “back” in many different situations.

“back” is a noun, verb, adjective and adverb. Let’s look at each one.

back as a noun

There are two uses of “back” as a noun:

  • Part of the body.
  • Opposite of “front”.

Let’s look at each one.

Part of the body

“back” is part of the body as per this photograph:

Examples:
He is lying on his back.
David is scratching his back.

The opposite of “front”

“back” is the opposite of “front”.
“back” describes part of an object that is the furthest from the front.

Examples:

The driver is at the front of the bus.
Mark is at the back of the bus.

This is the back of Mark’s hand.

There is a towel on the back of the chair.
I found my pen in the back of the drawer.

“back” as a verb

There are two uses of “back” as a verb:

  • To support someone or something.
  • To reverse or move backwards (opposite of forwards).

Let’s look at each one.

support someone or something

Meaning: To give support to someone or something with money or words.

Examples:

Jane: My colleagues backed my idea during the meeting.

I asked the bank for a loan but they are refusing to back me.
The politicians backed the Prime Minister’s plans.

to back up

Meaning:
To reverse a car.
To drive a car backwards (opposite of forwards).

Example:
Your car is blocking the entrance. Please back up a few metres.

to back into something

Form: back into something
Meaning
: To crash into something while moving backwards.

Example:


Mark: I had a car accident yesterday.
Jane: What happened?
Mark: I backed into a lamppost!

back as an adjective

“back” as an adjective describes position. The meaning is the opposite of “front”. We write “back” immediately before the noun.

Examples:

Here is the back garden. and here is the back door.

by freeimages.com/photographer/Ayla87-49541

There is a coat on the back seat of the car. Is it yours?

“back” as an adverb

An adverb modifies a verb. “back” modifies lots of verbs in English and it is this use that causes most confusion to learners of English.

The general meaning of “back” as an adverb is “return”.

In this section we will look at the following verbs and structures:

  • go back
  • put back
  • take back
  • carry back
  • look back
  • doing the same action to someone
  • call back
  • write back

Let’s look at each one in detail.

go back

Meaning: Return to a previous place.

Example:
7 o’clock – Mark leaves home and he goes to London.

by freeimages.com/photographer/Ayla87-49541

10 o’clock – Mark leaves London and he goes back home.

by freeimages.com/photographer/Ayla87-49541

put back

Form: put something back
Meaning: Return an object to a previous place.

Example:
I have taken the keys from your bag. I will put them back later.

take back

Form: take something back
Meaning: Return an object to a previous place.

Example:
The gloves are the wrong size. I am going to take them back to the shop.

by freeimages.com/photographer/windchime-38594 carry back

Form: carry something back
Meaning: Return an object to a previous place by carrying it.

Example:
Mark is carrying the boxes back to the lorry.

by stockimages & digitalart | FreeDigitalPhotos.net look back

Meaning: Look behind you

Example:
I was walking in the park. I heard a loud noise behind me. I looked back and I saw a dog.

doing the same action to someone

We also use “back” as an adverb to describe doing the same action to someone in return. Someone does an action to you and you do the same action in return. You do it back to them.

Examples:

Jane shouted at Mark and he shouted back at her.
Jane kissed Mark. Mark kissed Jane back.
“If you kick me, I will kick you back!”

call back

Form: call someone back
Meaning: To return a phone call to someone.

Example:
Jane: “Hi Sarah.”
Sarah: “Hi Jane. I can’t talk now. I will call you back tonight.”

write back

Form: write back to someone
Meaning: To reply to someone in writing.

Example:
Manager: We have received an email from Mr Jones.
Jane: Yes I know. I will write back to him later.

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English word BACK - Noun, verb, adjective and adverb - YouTube

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“at all” is most commonly used in questions and negative sentences.
“at all” gives emphasis. It makes the meaning stronger.

“at all” means “even a little”, “in any way” or “even slightly”

Usually, “at all” is at the end of the question or sentence.

“at all” in a question

Jane: “Do you love me at all?”
(Meaning: Do you love me, even a little?)

“at all” in negative sentences

She’s listening to music. She can’t hear me at all.
(Meaning: She can’t hear me, not even slightly.)

Mark: Why are you angry with me?
Jane: When you were in New York, you didn’t call me at all.
(Meaning: You didn’t even call me once.)

Position of “at all” with adjectives

We have 2 choices for the position in a sentence:

1) We put “at all” before the adjective.

Examples:
Are you at all tired?
I feel sick. I’m not at all hungry.

by Ohmega1982 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2) We put “at all” after the adjective.

Examples:
Are you tired at all?
I feel sick. I’m not hungry at all.

“at all” in conditionals

“at all” makes the meaning of the condition stronger.

It means: “in any way”, “even slightly” or “even a little”.

Examples:
If you loved me at all, you would help me.
(Meaning: If you loved me even a little, you would help me.)

If he had studied at all, he would have passed the exam.
(Meaning: If he had studied even a little, he would have passed the exam.)

If you are at all ill, stay in bed.
(Meaning: Even if you are only slightly ill, stay in bed.)

by David Castillo Dominici | FreeDigitalPhotos.net “at all” in affirmative sentences

We can use “at all” in certain affirmative sentences. We use “at all” in sentences that express free choice. These sentences often contain “any words” (anywhere, anybody, anything, anytime).

“at all” adds emphasis and makes the meaning of these sentences stronger.

Examples:
Where do you want to go? I’ll take you anywhere at all.

Anybody at all may watch the fireworks. It’s a public event.

Child: Dad, can I have an ice-cream?
Dad: You can have anything at all.

Expression “not at all”

We can use “not at all” as a very polite reply when someone thanks us. This is very formal English. It is more common in British English. It is not common in American English.

Example:

Architect: Thank you very much for coming.
Manager: Not at all.

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What does AT ALL mean in English? | Learn English words - YouTube

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What is the difference between “quick“, “quickly” and “fast” in English?

These 3 words are related to speed or time. They are similar but there are a few important differences. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Quick

“quick” is an English adjective. It gives us more information about a noun (person, place or thing).
Meaning: “quick” describes something that happens in a short time.

Examples:
We had a quick drink before going home.

Let’s have a quick meeting to discuss recruitment.
Jane gave Mark a quick kiss.

Quickly

“quickly” is an adverb and it therefore gives us more information about a verb.

There are two definitions and uses of “quickly“:

1)  At high speed
Examples:
I don’t understand. You’re talking too quickly.

He’s running quickly.

by stockimages | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2) After a short time
Examples:
He replied quickly to my letter.
The ambulance arrived quickly after the accident.

Fast

“fast” is an adjective and adverb.

Fast as an adjective

As an adjective, the meaning is to describe a noun (something or someone) that moves at high speed.
Example: I have a fast car.

Fast as an adjective

“fast” is an irregular adverb. It describes a verb (action) that is happening at high speed.
Example: He is walking fast.

by Ambro | FreeDigitalPhotos.net Expressions with fast fast food

Meaning: “fast food” is food that is prepared at high speed and in a short period of time.
Example: Fast food is bad for your health if you eat too much of it.

fast asleep

Meaning: To be completely asleep.
Example: The baby is fast asleep.

Common mistakes with “fast”

“fast” has the same spelling when it is an adjective and an adverb. We do not say “fastly” when it is an adverb.

Example:
He runs fast.
He runs fastly.

We use “quick” to describe something that takes a short time. We do not use “fast” to describe something that takes a short time.

Example:
I had a quick conversation with Jane yesterday. 
I had a fast conversation with Jane yesterday. 

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Difference between QUICK, QUICKLY and FAST | English vocabulary - YouTube

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“seem” is a verb.

Pronunciation:    /siːm/

Meaning:
Give the impression of being something.
Give the impression of having a particular quality.
To appear in a particular way.

Example: Jane seems tired.

Meaning:
Jane gives the impression of being tired.
Jane appears to be tired.
Jane looks tired.

(We think that Jane is tired because of her appearance. Maybe she is tired. Maybe she is fine. But she seems tired.)

seem – form

“seem” is a regular verb.

I seem
you seem
he / she / it     seems
we seem
you seem
they seem

Past simple: seemed
Past participle: seemed

Important: “seem” does not usually have a continuous form. This is because “seem” is considered to be a verb of the senses (similar to see, sound, smell, taste, hear).

Example:
Jane seems tired.
Jane is seeming tired.
Jane is seeming to be tired.

Uses of “seem”

Here are the common uses of “seem“:

  • “seem” as a linking verb
  • “it seems” + that clause
  • “it would seem” + that clause
  • “seem” + simple infinitive
  • “seem” + continuous infinitive
  • “seem” + perfect infinitive

Let’s look at each one.

“seem” as a linking verb

“seem” is a linking (copular) verb. A linking verb gives us more information about the subject of the sentence.

Linking verbs are followed by adjectives (not adverbs)
Linking verbs can also be followed by noun phrases.

“seem” + adjective

Form:
subject + “seem” + adjective

Meaning:
Give the impression of being something.
Give the impression of having a particular quality.

Examples:
They seem young. How old are they?

Clare seems happy.
The cat seems hungry.

“seem to be” + adjective

We can also have the following structure:

Form:
seem to be + adjective

We use this to describe more objective situations.

Examples:
The walls seem to be damp.
The soup seems to be cold.

Often, there is no real difference in meaning between “seem” + adjective and “seem to be” + adjective. Often, both are possible.

“seem” + noun phrase

Linking verbs can also be followed by a noun phrase.

We only use the form: “seem to be” + noun phrase
We do not use: “seem” + noun phrase

Examples:
Who is that man with the children?


He seems to be their father.
He seems their father.

The woman standing up seems to be the manager.
The woman standing up seems the manager.

by Ambro | FreeDigitalPhotos.net “it seems” and “it would seem”

Here is the form for these 2 expressions:
“it seems” + that clause
“it would seem” + that clause

The meaning of these 2 expressions is the same.

Meaning:
To suggest that something is true. “it seems” and “it would seem” are polite and indirect style.
It is a “non-committal” style. When someone says “it seems that……”, they are not saying that something is definitely true.

Examples:
Manager: Someone has broken my phone. (direct style)
Manager: It seems that someone has broken my phone. (indirect, polite)
Manager: It would seem that someone has broken my phone. (indirect, polite)

Politician: The economy is improving. (direct style, certain)
Politician: It seems that the economy is improving. (indirect, non-committal)
Politician: It would seem that the economy is improving. (indirect, non-committal)

Politicians often use this non-committal style because they can never be wrong. In the above example, if the economy declines in the future, they can save face by saying that they never said it was certain.

seem + infinitive

We use “seem” with different types of infinitive:

“seem” + simple infinitive
“seem” + continuous infinitive
“seem” + perfect infinitive

Let’s look at each one.

“seem” + simple infinitive

simple infinitive:  “to” + base form of verb
Example:  to cry

Form:  “seem” + simple infinitive

Meaning: To give the impression of doing an action in the present.

Examples:
She seems to cry a lot. Is she ok?
He seems to like her.

“seem” + continuous infinitive

Continuous infinitive:  “to be” + ING form of verb
Example:  to be crying

Form:  “seem” + continuous infinitive

Meaning: To give the impression of doing an action right now in the present or doing a continuous action in the present.

Examples:
You seem to be crying. What is wrong?
The new accountant seems to be working very hard today.

“seem” + perfect infinitive

perfect infinitive: “to have” + past participle
Example: to have finished

Form: “seem” + perfect infinitive
Meaning: To give the impression of having done an action in the past.

Examples:
Mark seems to have finished the project.

by imagerymajestic | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Principal: Where are the students?
Teacher: I don’t know. They seem to have left.

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Linking verb SEEM - English lesson - YouTube

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In this article, I give you tips and advice for how to learn, remember and memorise new English vocabulary.

Learn new words by theme

A long list of random, unrelated words is difficult for the brain to process.
Unrelated words:  clutch, dishonest, faith, petal, awkwardly, carpet

by Chaiwat | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is better and easier to learn words from the same theme.
Related words (car parts): clutch, wheel, tyre, bonnet, steering wheel, dashboard.

Learn derived words and phrases

When you learn a new word, find all the derived, related words and phrases and learn them too.

For example, you hear a new word: “curious“. You look in a dictionary and find:

(adjective)
Meaning 1: interested in learning about people or things around you.
Example: “The detective was very curious.”

Meaning 2: strange or bizarre.
“It’s curious that Mark isn’t here.”

So now you have learned the meaning of “curious”. Don’t stop there! Look for the derivatives of “curious” in the dictionary:

curiousity (noun) = The desire to learn about people or things about you.
Example: “The students have plenty of curiousity.”

curiously (adverb) = in a curious or interested way.
Example: “Who are you?” he asked curiously.

Also, look for the synonyms of “curious“:
Synonyms: suspicious, strange, bizarre.

Look for expressions, phrases and idioms with curious and its derivatives and look up their meanings:
Idiom: “Curiousity killed the cat.”
Meaning: We say this to warn someone not to ask too many questions.

As you can see, we started the process with one new word (curious) and we ended up learning an extra 5 new words and an idiom with several examples.

Review words you have already learned

When you learn a new word, it starts in our short-term memory. You must continue to review the word to transfer it to your long-term memory.

In the days and weeks after learning new words:

  • Read your notes again.
  • Say and write the words again.
  • Do some more exercises.
  • Read some material in which the words appear.

If you do not review words, you will forget them after a few days. A good English course will have regular vocabulary reviews.

Read in English

Reading is important because you will see new words in different contexts. The context also helps you remember. The context helps you understand the meaning. A story or article is more interesting than a list of words.

For example, you are reading a book and you see this sentence:

Jane doesn’t like Mark. She thinks that he is pretentious.

“pretentious” is probably a new word to you. We immediately know from the context that “pretentious” is an adjective to describe a person. We also know it means something bad or negative. We want to learn the meaning to understand why Jane doesn’t like Mark. We have a goal. It’s interesting.

The next time you see the word “pretentious“, you will remember the context and situation first. Then you will remember the meaning.

Be active

Reading is important but it is not enough to properly memorise new words. You are passive while reading. You need to be active.

Write new words in a notebook with their derivatives, synonyms and phrases. Write down example sentences for each new word. (Writing uses motor memory and this helps with recall.)

Say the new words and example sentences out loud. If possible do this with another student. Ask the other student a question. Say the new words and phrases in your questions and / or answers. We learn language by using it. Be busy and active!

Make flashcards

A flashcard is a card to learn a new word.

The new word is on one side of the card.

The definition and/or picture is on the other side.

Make the flashcards yourself. (Be active!) Don’t use cards made by someone else. There are lots of activities you can do with flashcards:

  • Memory games.
  • Sort them into themes.
  • Combine several cards to make sentences.
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“How come?” is a question. It is very common in informal spoken English.

Meaning:
We say “how come?” to ask why something has happened.
We say “how come?” to ask why a particular situation exists.
“How come?“ expresses surprise by a situation.

Example:
Mark: Do you want to go to the cinema?
Jane: No.
Mark: How come?
Jane: I’m tired.

by David Castillo Dominici | FreeDigitalPhotos.net Form of “how come” – simple examples

If we want to simply ask “why?”, we can say “How come?”

Examples:

Jane: I’m not hungry.
Mark: How come?
Jane: I had a late breakfast.

David: Do you want to watch the football?
Mark: No.
David: How come?
Mark: I don’t like football.

Jane: I don’t like Clare.
Sarah: Really? How come?
Jane: She is rude!

Form of “how come” – full questions

Important:
“How come” is followed by a sentence in the affirmative form:
“How come” + sentence in affirmative form + “?”
Example: How come you are late?

Compare that to a “why” question whose form is the question form:
Why” + sentence in question form + “?”
Example: Why are you late?

In the examples below, compare the difference in form of the “how come” questions with the “why” question. The meaning of each one is the same.

Examples:

How come you are giving me money?
Why are you giving me money?

How come you have sold your house?
Why have you sold your house?

How come you took my keys?
Why did you take my keys?

How come you are here?
Why are you here?

How come you went to London?
Why did you go to London?

Important: We do not conjugate “how come”. That means we never say “How came” or “How coming” to ask a question.

Example:
How came you went to London?

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HOW COME? - Use, meaning and form in English - YouTube

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