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The usual question and answer seem to be of the form

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a singer when I grow up.

Should it not be

What do you want to be when you have grown up?

I want to be a singer when I have grown up.

Here we have interpreted grow up as the process at whose end one becomes a singer. Should the first pair be considered correct simply because of its accepted usage, or is there an alternative explanation for this?

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Also used is "are grown up" ("'re ..."). –  Mechanical snail Aug 18 '12 at 23:47
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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

No, because a present tense is normal for an achievement in the future:

When I am ready

When I get tired

When I reach London

In all of these a perfect is possible ("When I have reached London" etc), but not required.

"Grow up" can be a process, but in "When you grow up" it is, at least notionally, an achievement (i.e. end of a process).

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How about 'What do you want to visit when you travel to London'? –  Mitch Aug 18 '12 at 23:56
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"Grow up" can be a process, but in "When you grow up" it is, at least notionally, an achievement (i.e. end of a process). –  Colin Fine Aug 19 '12 at 15:47
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protected by Will Hunting Nov 17 '12 at 6:22

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