So I suggested this in class and it was declared wrong with, "What happened to some of those?" as a replacement. Are sentences like the one in the headline strictly wrong or do they just sound bad?

So this is mostly about forming questions with become as the verb. We had a text about derelict houses that got restored, some of which became museums and activity centres. We then should formulate basic questions based on this text and the headline was the one I suggested.

As stated by my teacher this one is wrong and English speakers avoid using questions with become as much as possible. "What happened to them" was declared the correct version.

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    To get a good answer, you should tell us about the situation in which you used this sentence. Questions normally end with a question mark. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong or ungrammatical about the sentence. Whether or not it "sounds funny" (is unnatural, not idiomatic, or unlikely) depends on what you are talking about it, when you said it, and what you wanted to communicate. Please edit your question to include more information. – Jim Reynolds Oct 17 '16 at 13:52

Notice your teacher uses the past tense "happened" instead of "happens". Questions like this ask about past events, so the past tense is usually correct. This is, I think, why "become" feels odd in your example because it's not past tense. In this usage the common idiom is "became of":

What(ever) became of all those derelict houses after they got restored?

Whatever became of that actor, you know the one that starred in all those action films in the late 80s?

Do you remember Donna from high school? Whatever became of her?

To qualify this: "whatever became of ..?" can imply a wistful and possibly nostalgic quality to the question, while "what happened to ...?" is more matter-of-fact. Not always, though. It's possible to say something like the following, without any kind of nostalgic intention:

Jim, whatever became of that report I handed you yesterday? It's not in the filing cabinet where it should be.

Of course it's just as acceptable to say:

Jim, what happened to that report ...

Anyway your teacher is correct that happen is more natural English, but incorrect that you should never use become in a question.

  • Teacher said become should not be at the end of the question. So that excludes the became of version you brought up here. So should I avoid sentences with do+ become and use "became of" instead? I also dont quite understand why did + infinitive isnt past tense, mind explaining? – ChadThunder Oct 17 '16 at 17:14
  • @ChadThunder I can think of at least one example where your teacher is wrong, but it's unusually convoluted English. So I think "happen" is better for this purpose. – Andrew Oct 17 '16 at 18:21

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