Which of the following statements is more common and why?

  1. I became 20 yesterday.
  2. I turned 20 yesterday.
  • 2
    They are both correct and mean the same thing. But they might be used in different contexts. I think I would tend to use turn, if I was stressing the fact of a person's age, such as with children or teenagers. But also I might use it with landmark birthdays such as 40, 50, 60, 70 and heaven forbid, if I make it 80! – WS2 Feb 17 '15 at 9:37
  • I became 20 does not show up on a Google Corpus English search, while I turned 20 spikes in popularity from 1980. books.google.com/ngrams/… Became is also absent with 30, 40, 50 and 60. books.google.com/ngrams/… – ScotM Feb 17 '15 at 9:46
  • Probably the most common way of saying this is the counter-intuitive 'I was 20 yesterday'. Semelfactive be! – Edwin Ashworth Feb 17 '15 at 11:07
  • Related: I'll be 60 years old next year – choster Feb 17 '15 at 20:35

"Became" would be understood, but "turned" is the normally used verb, at least in the US. "Was" does not suit this context; it would more likely be used to reference the distant past; i.e., I was 20 when the Beatles arrived in America.


In my opinion turn would be an appropriate choice. Both may be used to denote changes. However, turn is used when a the process is still in continuation and gradual per se, like aging, while become is used when the phrase is more definitive and result oriented. For example:

  • What do I have to do to become a pilot?
  • He turned 100 years old yesterday.

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