I will help you when you grow up

Which sentences are correct? (I think the 1. is the correct one in a grammatical sense. The second may not be the best version, yet I have seen/heard this construction many times already.)

1. She said that she would help him when he grew up

2. She said that she would help him when he grows up

By the way is it common to report a speech using the present perfect? She has said that vs She said that

  • They're both fine. #1 would normally be used if at time of speaking he's already grown up, and #2 would be more appropriate if he's still a child. Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


#1 is colloquially problematic. Or should I have written problematically colloquial.

It is better and more comprehensible to deploy a completed participle:

She said that she would help him when he's grown up

Whereas, #2 provides the fragrant hint of a non-finite. Not exactly, but somewhat non-finite.

  • I will be a happy wife when he finally eats durians.
  • We will be exhilarated when he discovers a molecular structure to contain those huge esters from decomposing pungently at temperatures above 45 fahrenheit.
  • Her dad will see the light at the end of his financial tunnel when she graduates from engineering school.
  • His mom would be very much more relaxed when a grows up to be an adult.
  • Thank you for your answer. So in this case when reporting a future subordinate (with a present tense) we don't back-shift to the simple past? Is it because the present has precisely a future sense? In a previous question where I wanted to report this: Can you go outside today? - I don't know yet, I need my parents' approval first, I've been told it should be If James asked his friend if she could go outside, she would tell him she needed her parents' approval first.
    – Jamesr
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 8:13
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonfinite_verb Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 17:26
  • english.stackexchange.com/questions/289903/… Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 17:36
  • So the answer is that in my previous example (approval before going out, let's call it 3.) we use a simple past as usual whereas in 1. it is best to use a present perfect because in 1 "grow up" is a non-finite event? If so, can we say that in all the future subordinates the verb Y is non-finite? I will X when Y happens
    – Jamesr
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 19:04
  • Just realised addendum needed: His mom would be very much more relaxed when he grows up to be an adult Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 21:40

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