I was discussing how to use "When I am older" with a friend who speaks English as her second language. She asked me if it would be more correct to write "When I get older".

I said that both would be correct and she asked which would be more correct...

Could anyone be able to answer this?


  • It depends on what you’re trying to say. It’s more likely that you would want to say “am older” as in: When I am older I will be able to cross the street by myself. But “When I get older my hair gets whiter.” could also be okay. Informally, they are interchangeable for the “am older” sense.
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:32
  • 1
    Bear in mind that one of meanings of get is become: /When I get older/ "translates" to: When I become older. Get is many things: arrive, become, receive, purchase, etc.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:36
  • @Lambie - Yeah and it’s all in what follow this fragment: When I become angry my face turns red. vs When I become angry my face is red.
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:45
  • @Jim When I get angry, my face gets red. /get/ can be/ turns/ also. Dunno why you are pissed at me. I just provided my own comment, which does not impinge on yours in any way.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 18:23
  • 1
    There's a subtle nuance. "Get older" implies something changing relative to now. "Am older" jumps right to being older.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 5:15

1 Answer 1


When I am older...

When the verb is be, older is a simple comparative to describe a greater age relative to the speaker's present age. It does not necessarily have any overtones regarding the state of old age.

When I get older...

When the verb is get, older is a description of a future state- one where the speaker is showing the signs of age. In relation to a person, that's grey hair, everything heading south, etc.

  • @EdwinAshworth: fair comment: I have changed the wording a little.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 20:14
  • 1
    I still think you're over-emphasising the different connotations. I think the difference is slight. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 20:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.