When ‘become’ is not becoming

Full-day school becomes an important issue because it concerns a wide range of people, especially parents.

Indonesian flag This is the influence of Bahasa Indonesia. In English become is used to describe a change, rather than a constant:

  • People become sleepy when they drink a lot of beer.
  • Most knives become dull after a while and need to be sharpened.
  • When there’s a problem, Clark Kent becomes Superman.

In each of these three cases, a change is implied, from alert to sleepy, from sharp to dull, and from newspaper journalist to superhero. They are all familiar, recurring situations, and so we use present simple tense to describe them.

If we say “Full-day school becomes an important issue,” a change is indeed implied (from non full-day school to full-day school), but since this is a unique, rather than a recurring situation, then we need a time frame.

If the change happened in the past, but we’re not sure exactly when, then we use present perfect tense:

  • Full-day school has become an important issue.

If the change is happening right now – continuously – then we can use present continuous tense:

  • Full-day school is becoming an important issue.

However, if we are analysing a situation that is true now, constant and without change, as though we are looking at it under a microscope, then we use present simple tense:

  • Full-day school is an important issue.

Practice

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OK I understand

It is difficult to control how children use the Internet. This a problem for parents who want to protect their children from negative influences. Although software developers have built parental controls into their apps, children better able to hack apps in order to access all of their features. Indeed as time goes by it increasingly impossible to safeguard children from violent and pornographic content online. Whenever we aware of the dangers of a technology, we should urge our governments to exercise suitable controls for the sake of harmony in society.

Answer Key

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