I have a problem with the usage of the word “grow.”

Sentence 1: The wings grow.

Sentence 2: The chick grows wings.

I know “the hair grows” but not “I grow my hair.” But how about the sentences above? Are there any nuances?

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    I grow my hair long in the winter, then shave my head on the vernal equinox Nothing wrong with the grammar there. Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 13:49
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    The wings grow (get bigger). A man grows a beard (allows it to grow). Saying that a chick grows wings implies that it hatches without any (it doesn't, they're just small and without feathers). Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 14:02
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    Grow can be either a volitional verb (He grows zucchini in that box) or it can be just a factor of development. People and animals and plants and mushrooms grow; and metaphorically, anything -- abstract or concrete -- can be said to grow if it gains mass, area, age, prestige, or any other measurable property. That's the intransitive use, as in Insects grow their exoskeleton before they grow their legs. The transitive use, like growing zucchini, takes a direct object and may or may not be interpreted as being on purpose: He grew a beard/He grew a wart. Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 14:26
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    @KateBunting Thanks. Your explanation is very clear.
    – Lila Greco
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 15:06
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    @JohnLawler Thank you. The examples are very useful for me to comprehend it.
    – Lila Greco
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


OP's utterance The chick grows wings is not a "felicitous / happy" use of the verb to grow. If you want the wings to be the subject (a perfectly acceptable stylistic choice), it's better to say...

The chick's wings develop.

Personally, I wouldn't say The chick develops its wings, because that implies a deliberate act by the chick. That implication is far weaker with my preferred version with the chick as the subject...

The chick develops wings.

  • Thanks. I understand it. :)
    – Lila Greco
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 13:54

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