How would this sentence be completed? "It was a small town but in 2005, the government __ it into a city". I can only think of "made into" but that doesn't seem very right and I think there is a verb for governments 'declaring' it a city.

  • why, cityfied of course. ;)
    – npst
    Feb 18, 2014 at 15:06
  • 1
    designated it a city Feb 18, 2014 at 15:09
  • Are you living somewhere where a town and a city are actually legally different? It works differently in every state of the U.S. (In New Jersey, there are towns, townships, cities, boroughs, and villages.) Feb 18, 2014 at 15:59
  • I am living in a southeast asian country. There is a clear distinction here between towns, cities, and villages.
    – user2246
    Feb 19, 2014 at 1:22

5 Answers 5


I think it depends on the idea you are trying to convey.

If in the political environment where this place is located there is a legal distinction between a town and a city, then you might say "officially designated it to be a city" or "achieved the status of a city".

If you mean this in a more informal sense, like the population has grown and people think "town" implies a place smaller than this place now is, you might say "built it into a city" or "grew it into a city".

"Made it into a city" and "turned it into a city" could also work. They'd be more general.


I believe the word you're looking for is "incorporated".

Incorporated and Unincorporated - What's the Difference?

How Does a Town Become Incorporated?

  • In the USA, perhaps, but not in the UK. Feb 18, 2014 at 15:51
  • 2
    This is not universally true in the U.S., either— it depends on the state.
    – choster
    Feb 18, 2014 at 18:16

You can use "turn" as well. But wait for native speakers' opinion.


The problem here is a mix up over agency.

At least in the UK, the government doesn't [verb] a town into a city. The town applies to become a city, which is granted (or conferred) or not by the government. As the government doesn't initiate the event, and is therefore not the agent in thematic relation terms, there is no associated verb.


In the UK, cities are created by Royal Charter, so the sentence would normally read

It was a small town but in 2005, it was granted a Royal Charter and became a City.

This could be shortened to something like "The City of Brighton & Hove was chartered in 2001 as part of the Millennium celebrations" but note that

  • even then the agent of chartering is not stated. The passive voice is always used.
  • a better verb than chartered would be created.

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