Which words go with go and which with grow as a linking verb?

  1. bald

  2. impatient

  3. bad

  4. mad

  5. gray

  6. bored

  7. old

  8. blind

  9. calm

Our teacher says that The linking verb go is used for colors and bad adjectives like bald, deaf, blind, etc. but we also use grow for impatient. Then how can we decide which one to use?

  • 1
    Your teacher is quite correct that we tend to use go for "colors and bad adjectives", but this isn't a fixed rule. His face grew pink, for example, occurs almost as often as His face went pink in Google Books. But if you hear, for example, John went religious last year (as opposed to grew or became), you can probably assume the speaker himself thinks of "being religious" as a bad rather than a neutral or good thing. So it is a useful usage distinction to be aware of in general. Dec 29, 2016 at 17:41
  • 2
    Obviously one would not exepct grow with bald (lack of growth), but grow bald is a good oxymoron.
    – Peter
    Dec 29, 2016 at 18:06
  • @FumbleFingers Now cold you please answer the questions above? Dec 29, 2016 at 18:16
  • 1
    The "generic" answer is that there are no absolute rules regarding whether go and/or grow (or indeed other verbs, such as get) can be used in any given context. So if you were hoping for a "bulletproof, definitive" classification for each of your particular nine adjectives, I'm afraid there isn't one. There might be a "logical" explanation for why He went mad and He grew angry occur far more often than He grew mad or He went angry, but I'm not sure delving into something as specific as that would be the best way of "answering" this question. Dec 29, 2016 at 18:26
  • @Peter: And so he continued riding along and playing upon his fiddle for many years, until his head grew bald and his face was wrinkled and his bushy eyebrows became as white as snow. That's from L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, so I think it's safe to assume it's a "valid" usage. Though I see no obvious reason why he couldn't have written until his head went bald and his face grew wrinkled. Dec 29, 2016 at 18:44

1 Answer 1

  1. go bald

  2. grow impatient

  3. go bad

  4. go mad

  5. go gray

  6. grow bored

  7. grow old

  8. go blind

  9. get calm

But as FumbleFingers explains in his comments, there seems to be no rule that governs the use of "go" and "grow". In some cases the use is a complete oxymoron, like "grow smaller". Unfortunately it's more memorization.

  • 1
    But you used get at the end? Dec 29, 2016 at 19:06
  • @TahaAkbari yes, on purpose. Sometimes you have to question what you're taught. "Grow calm" is fine too, depending on context. Personally, I prefer "get calm".
    – Andrew
    Dec 29, 2016 at 19:25
  • Ideally, the verb for "grow smaller" would be shrink.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 29, 2016 at 20:21

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