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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Become and なる

成る is usually "become," but there are important exceptions. Please remember that "become" is usually transitive (他動詞).  So sentences like the following (all from in-class student errors) are mistakes:
  1. I became to like English.
  2. My golf score became from 150 to 100.
So how do we fix this? One way is to change the verb to a more specific verb that implies change.
  1. I started to like English.
  2. My golf score improved from 150 to 100.
How about this one:
  • I became able to eat pasta.
The idea this speaker is trying to express seems to be "I'm Japanese so I couldn't eat pasta, and then I became able to eat it." Having seen one year old Japanese babies gobbling down pasta, I know that being Japanese has nothing to do with the ability to eat pasta. The idea you are trying to express is that you did something for the first time, so try this:
  • I ate pasta for the first time.
Finally, there are cases where "become" functions as a copula (連結詞):
  • They became able to play soccer.
And in these cases, I think the predicate has to start with an adjective (形容詞):
  • They became better at soccer.
Please use English well!