How to use become, get, go grow

changes: become, get, go, grow, etc

Become, get, go, come, grow, and turn can all be used with similar meanings to talk about changes. The differences between them are complicated – they depend partly on grammar, partly on meaning and partly on fixed usage.

1 become dark, become a pilot, etc

Become can be used before adjectives and noun phrases.

  • It was becoming very dark.
  • What do you have to do to become a pilot?

Become is not usually used to talk about single deliberate actions.

  • Please get ready now. (NOT Please-become ready now.)

2 get dark, younger, etc

Get (informal) is very common before adjectives (without nouns).

  • It was getting very dark. (informal)
  • You get younger every day. (informal)

Get can also be used before past participles like lost, broken, dressed, married.

  • They got married in 1986 and got divorced two years later.

We generally use go, not get, to talk about changes in color and some changes for the worse (like go mad).
Get is not normally used before nouns to talk about changes.

  • I became a grandfather last week. (NOT… I got a grandfather … )

3 get + infinitive

We can sometimes use get with an infinitive to talk about a gradual change.

  • After a few weeks, I got to like the job better.
  • She’s nice when you get to know her.

4 go red, go mad, etc

Go can be used before adjectives to talk about change, especially in an
informal style. This is common in two cases.

Go (and not
get) is used to talk about changes in color.

  • Leaves go brown in autumn. (NOT leaves get brown. )
  • She went white with anger.
  • Suddenly everything went black and I lost consciousness.

Other examples:

  • go blue with cold/ red with embarrassment/ green with envy.

Turn can also be used in these cases (see below), and so can grow when the
change is gradual. Go is more informal than
turn and grow.

Go (not usually
get) is used before adjectives in some expressions that refer to changes for the worse. People go mad (BrE), crazy, deaf, blind, grey or bald; horses go lame; machines go wrong; iron goes rusty; meat, fish, or vegetables go bad; cheese goes moldy; milk goes off or sour; bread goes stale; beer, lemonade, musical instruments, and car tires go flat.
He went bald in his twenties. The car keeps going wrong.
Note that we use get, not go, with old, tired and ill.

5 come true etc

Come is used in a few fixed expressions to talk about things finishing up all
right. The most common are
come true and come right.

  • I’ll make all your dreams come true.
  • Trust me – it will all come right in the end.

Come + infinitive can be used to talk about changes in mental state or attitude.

  • I slowly came to realize that she knew what she was doing.
  • You will come to regret your decision.

6 grow old etc

Grow is used before adjectives especially to talk about slow and gradual
changes. It is more formal than
getting or go, and a little old-fashioned or literary.

  • Without noticing it he grew old.
  • When they grew rich they began to drop their old friends.
  • As the weather grows colder, my thoughts turn to holidays in the sun.


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