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What should I use Became or become? Why?

a) The “poor man”, who became/become so, due to the therapeutic circumstances.

Become past tense is became. But sentence is referring to present truth. so I feel Become is correct. But, Became describe completed action of becoming poor.

Context:

A doctor, due to his professional proximity, has a higher chance, to grasp three of The Buddha’s four noble sights—the sick man, the old man, the dying man! Those with additional introspection may also record, the fourth—the “poor man”, who became so, due to the therapeutic circumstances.

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    There is nothing wrong with the present tense—but you need to conjugate it correctly: the "poor man" who becomes so. Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 14:04
  • @JasonBassford: Now we have some more context, I see Simple Present (correctly conjugated for 3rd person singular) is probably what OP was aiming for. I'm almost regretting posting an answer endorsing the perfect form here (usually I'm advising against overuse of perfect forms here on ELL), but I'll let it stand. Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 14:29

2 Answers 2

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You can use either the past tense or the present tense. However, if you use the present tense, the correct conjugation is becomes, not become.

So:

Observe the poor man who became so.
Observe the poor man who becomes so.

Both of those tenses are correct.

There are also other variations: had become, has become, will become, was becoming, is becoming, will be becoming, and so on.

It's a matter of style and emphasis that determines which tense you actually want to use in any given context.


The present tense is often used when generalizing something—as in the case of proverbs, which might look like this:

A man who becomes poor is a man who becomes lonely.

That particular verb is used to emphasize a transition rather than just a simple statement of fact like this:

A man who is poor is a man who is lonely.


So, there is no correct answer in this case. The verb and verb tense used is simply a matter of personal choice.

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In the cited context become is simply ungrammatical. Simple Present / Past becomes / became are possible, but this is one of those situations where a Perfect form may be a better choice. Depending on whether the surrounding narrative context is Present or Past, the choice should be between...

1: The “poor man”, who has become so due to the therapeutic circumstances
2: The “poor man”, who had become so due to the therapeutic circumstances


Note that there shouldn't be a comma after so, just as there would be no pause in speech. It's also worth pointing out that the cited text isn't a sentence (it's just a noun phrase). The easiest way to convert the text into a "valid sentence" is simply to remove the word who...

3: The “poor man” has become so due to the therapeutic circumstances

...but I have to say I think it's at least slightly unusual phrasing, given that the entire point of the utterance is to explain why he's poor, not to identify the subject as poor. Which would more naturally be expressed as...

4: The man has become poor due to the therapeutic circumstances


EDIT: The question has been edited to provide context, which obviates my criticisms about the style itself. But it's still okay to use the Perfect tense as per my version #1.

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