Reader question: In this sentence – We need our main guys to come through – what does "come through" mean exactly? It doesn't appear to be a complete sentence.
That sentence means "if we want to succeed and get out of this difficult situation, we need our best players to do well and lead us." It is a complete sentence alright. It would also be alright to say: "We're in dire straits. We need our main guys to come through for us."
Come. Through. Two simple words. Put together, "come through" here means for people to extricate themselves from a problematic situation successfully and unscathed. For example (I'm making this up): "He had zero preparation for the exam. Everybody thought he would fail. But he came through. In fact, he got an A".
When people "come through for someone", it means they helped others pull through a tough situation. For example: "My company was facing bankruptcy. Nobody was willing to lend me money – the banks all turned their back on me. Can you imagine, just when I needed them the most? I was on the brink of suicide when my billionaire girlfriend offered me a million dollars – she came through for me big time." Lovely, isn't it? Unfortunately this I made up too. It's not true. So, girls (make that boys to avoid a non-sequitur), don't count on no boyfriends nor their billions.
Ordinarily, by the way, "come through" just means "arrive". For example: "More bad news came through today. The smog is not clearing up any time soon – no northerly winds are forecast in the upcoming week" (Again, I made this up and, being in Beijing, I hope this one won't turn out to be true).
Here are two examples from the media:
1. come through:
Turkoglu, Magic come through in OT, bop Bulls
Chicago (AP, December 31, 2007) – Hedo Turkoglu made plenty of bad decisions on Monday, but it still didn't scare Stan Van Gundy enough to take the ball from his hands at the end of the game.
Turkoglu hit a fadeaway jumper with seven-tenths of a second left in overtime, and the Orlando Magic beat the Chicago Bulls 112-110.
2. come through for someone:
The Queen Saves the Butler, Ending a British Brouhaha
Royal word that maybe the butler didn't do it after all saved the former manservant of Diana, Princess of Wales, today, when he was cleared of charges of plundering her estate.
The acquittal came after the court was suddenly informed that Queen Elizabeth II had known all along that Paul Burrell, the royal aide whom the late princess called her "rock," was holding on to the princess's belongings for safekeeping.
"The queen came through for me," said a tearful Mr. Burrell, after the prosecution said it was withdrawing all of its robbery accusations because its entire case had been based on the premise that he had confiscated the personal items without the knowledge of anyone – much less the Queen of England (New York Times, November 2, 2002).