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Is there any difference of meaning between "to want to be" and "to want to become" when they express a change of "permanent" state , eg a profession or a personality trait? Is one of them more usual/informal?

Example of profession change:

  • I want to be an actor.
  • I want to become an actor.

Example of personality change:

  • I want to be a good person.
  • I want to become a good person.
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    Colloquially, there's not much difference. In your examples both sound fine, but I'd say "be" sounds less formal in both cases and is what I'd expect to hear in most conversation. – Jonah Sep 22 '19 at 18:45
  • @JasonBassford the difference between "to be" and "to become" is very clear to me. My question is about the specific case of "to want to be" and "to want to become" because both imply a change. Although the mentioned question is the same, most of its answers focus on the basic difference between "to be" and "to become". Have I misunderstood something? – Alan Evangelista Sep 23 '19 at 1:54
  • if you understand what to be means and what to become means, I don't understand how wanting those two different things could be unclear. (The only additional thing here is want.) – Jason Bassford Sep 23 '19 at 3:00
  • "I want to be an actor" expresses a state and "I become an actor" expresses a change. "I want to be an actor" expresses a desire to reach a state and thus implies a change. Identically, "I want to become an actor" expresses a change of state, but an explicit one. AFAIK the meaning is the same in the last two sentences, the only difference is the focus in the goal or the process to get there. My intention in this question is to confirm if this is true. Also, I want to know whether one of them is more usual because other languages usually prefer one construction over the another. – Alan Evangelista Sep 23 '19 at 3:16
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To be refers to the goal.

To become implies the process of reaching the goal.

For example:

To be a life guard, you have to be a good swimmer.
To become a life guard, you have to train hard.

The first example specifies the requirement.
The second example tells you how to achieve it.

So a child might say:

I want to be a good person

But a bad person might say:

I want to become a good person.

The first specifies the goal. The second refers to the process required in order to achieve the goal.

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    Couldn't one say "to become a lifeguard, you have to be a good swimmer", "to be a life guard, you have to train hard"? Couldn't a bad person say "I want to be a good person", focusing on the goal? The difference between both verbs in this context seems just a nuance of focus (goal/process of reaching the goal) to me and thus they are interchangeable in most cases. – Alan Evangelista Sep 22 '19 at 18:38
  • Agreed! One focuses on the goal. The other on the process of reaching it. They are generally interchangeable, depending on where you want to put the emphasis. – Ronald Sole Sep 22 '19 at 19:02

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