when it comes to: meaning and explanation

When it comes to something is a very useful phrase for focussing on a specific topic or area.

We use this phrase to introduce a more specific topic or area that we want to talk about. e.g. In general I’m quite a relaxed parent, but when it comes to my children’s safety I don’t take any chances. 

Imagine I am explaining the ways in which I am similar to my parents. In some ways, I am similar to my mum. In other ways, I am similar to my dad. I can use ‘when it comes to’ to focus on specific areas, e.g. When it comes to my appearance, I take after my dad. When it comes to my personality, I take after my mum.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: England (London)

, .
good driver, but parking problems.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Northern England

, Michael .

investment advice, Michael what he's .

About the sentence

…Michael really knows what he’s talking about…

If you say that someone knows what they’re talking about, then they have good knowledge or a good understanding of a topic.

This can be used negatively with the opposite meaning. e.g. Just ignore him – he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Ireland

, .

your health, you shouldn't unnecessary .

About the sentence

…you shouldn’t take any unnecessary risks

Notice the important verb-noun collocation to take a risk. e.g. I think we need to hire a manager who is prepared to take occasional risks.

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • The UK has many nice places to visit. When it comes to history, Bath is a very important city. When it comes to nightlife, London is definitely the most popular destination. When it comes to outdoor activities, the Scottish Highlands can’t be beaten. Think about different places to visit in your country, using ‘when it comes to’ to focus on different areas.