Consider the sentences below:

Come Christmas morning, some women will find more than a little sparkle beneath the Christmas tree.

Come Christmas Eve, he will visit four churches between 4 and 11 pm to participate in services.

I wonder what is the part of speech of come in these situations.
Original Post
Huddleston et al * explains this point quite nicely. They state that "Come takes a future time expression as complement: Come the end of the year, we should be free of all these debts. Historically, this is a subjunctive clausal construction, with come a plain form verb and the end of the year its subject; synchronically, however, its function and internal structure are like those of preposition phrase(compare by the end of the year), and it is plausible to suggest that come has been reanalysed as a preposition." (page. 636)

A number of dictionaries seem to agree with the above analysis by categorizing come as a preposition.

Come prep. informal. when a specified time is reached or event happens.
(The Oxford American College Dictionary (2002), G.P. Putnam's Sons.)

Come preposition informal. at a particular time in the future or when a particular event happens: Come summer, all the building work should be finished.
(MacMillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2002))

However, some dictionaies still consider this use of come a verb.


come verb
to happen:
Spring has come early.
The announcement came at a bad time.
Her resignation came as quite a shock.
INFORMAL Come Monday morning (= When it is Monday morning) you'll regret staying up all night.
(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

come verb
13 on the arrival of (a particular point in time) "¢ Come next Tuesday I'll be free.
(Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)

I personally agree with the analysis of Huddleston et al. and I'd say come is more like a prepostion than a verb in both your sentences above.

(* The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002, Cambridge University Press)
I am sorry to say that the explanation of Huddleston et al is ad hoc.

Charles Bailey explained this phenomenon elegantly in his book--Essays on Time Based Linguistic Analysis--with optative may deletion and optional SV inversion. For more, search

1. Come what may
2. God save Queen
3. Suffice it to say
4. Be it ever so humble
5. May she win
6. God help us
7. Though it be
8. Whether it be
9. How come?
10. If it be
11. Unless it be
12. So be it
13. Be it so
14. Be that as it may
What an interesting discussion!

PromegaX's explanation is indeed elegant. I have found additional support for both statements: that "come" is a verb and that "come" is a preposition in the sentences.

In Quirk*:

"Present subjunctive come is used in a temporal clause (generally initial) without a subordinator:

Come winter, we'll have to pay a good deal more for vegetables and fruit. [˜When winter comes,...' "
In the Collins COBUILD English Dictionary**
"You can use come before a date, time or event to mean when that date, time or event arrives. For example, you can say come the spring to mean ˜when the spring arrives'. ..."

In this dictionary, this use of "come" is classified as a preposition, and also as a verb followed by a noun.

*A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Svartvik. Longman. 1985
**The Collins COBUILD English Dictionary. Harper Collins. 1995

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