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English Idioms

“come clean”

Come clean


  • confess and admit a problem or mistake
  • tell the full truth

Sample Sentences

  1. Please come clean about the problem. You can’t hide it forever.
  2. The politician came clean after investigators discovered his dishonesty.
  3. The manager didn’t come clean about his illegal financial dealings, so the company fired him. 
  4. If you don’t come clean to your parents about crashing the car, they won’t ever let you use another one.
  5. If I were you, I’d come clean to your wife about why you forgot her birthday.

Conversation Questions

  1. Do you always come clean to friends and family whenever you make a mistake? Why or why not? 
  2. Why do some students cheat on homework and tests? In such cases, why is it difficult for them to come clean about this issue?
  3. There are times when a person is dishonest with their partner about  their personal lives (work, money, relationships, and/or their past). They can’t come clean about such things. Why is this the case?

Speaking Situation

Your brother completely forgot about his wife’s birthday because he was busy playing video games with his friends from work. When he realized his mistake, he rushed back home and told his wife that his car had broken down along the road, and he didn’t have reception to call her. He just couldn’t come clean. He also told her that he had ordered her some flowers, but the company must have delivered them to the wrong address. You can see in her face that she is not sure whether to believe you or not. Then, you hear a knock at the door, and when your wife opens it, one of your coworkers hands her one of your video games and comments what a great time he had earlier that evening with you. 

Now, your wife looks very angry. How are you going to come clean about what really happened? How are you going to regain her trust?

Language Activity

Sometimes, learners know the meaning of an idiom, but they don’t know how to use it correctly in conversation or writing. Thus, this activity checks your grammatical accuracy with the idiom so you become more confident in using it. 

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