I am not good at English. And I used to say that I want to become a software developer. But Some people are using that I want to be a [something]. Which one is correct? And at what situations we should use which one? I read in many websites. Answers I have found so far are

  • Be is abbreviation of become. Both are same.
  • Be is representing continuous thing. Become represents future.

I can't understand it because of people usage. Could anyone please further explain the difference between these two?

  • 8
    Be is abbreviation of become... that's an interesting thought, but I don't think it's true.
    – J.R.
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 14:41
  • @J.R., Surely why not? [Eg <{{be, become}} {{calm, good}}>:: surely <become it> preneeds <not it>; surely <be it> preneeds surely-maybe-over-0% of <not it>. So surely probably it's abbreviation, a type through which traits [here preneeds] reduce; no?]
    – Pacerier
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 6:42

4 Answers 4


BE is notoriously difficult to define, because you can't say what it "is" without in effect using the word itself.

But the difference between BE and BECOME is relatively easy.

  • BE designates a state, something which continues unchanged through time.
  • BECOME designates an event, a change of state.

Right now you are (BE) not yet a software developer. You are perhaps a student of software development. That is a state. You will continue to BE a student until your state changes. At that point you will BECOME a software developer. After that point you will no longer BE a student, you will BE a developer.

So both ways of describing your ambition are correct. You want to BE a developer; but in order to achieve that state you must BECOME a developer, you must change your present state.

  • +1 for sure but to simplify the last paragraph, when something turns into something, it uses become and be cannot be applied. Your pawn reaches the eighth box and *becomes Queen.* be won't look that natural.
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 14:10
  • 1
    @MaulikV, but the pawn could say "I want to be queen!" and it would sound fine. I mean, except for the fact that the pawn is talking at all...
    – Joe
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 17:00
  • 1
    @MaulikV I believe that “Your pawn reaches the eighth row and thereafter is a queen.” is fairly natural. Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:51

"Become" means to go from a state of not-being to a state of being. For instance, in order to become a software developer, you'd have to not be one already.

In this case, you can correctly use either word; wanting to be a developer implies that you aren't one. (There are times when it doesn't, but those require some qualifier that changes what you "want to be".) Wanting to become, though, does specifically mean that you're looking forward to the actual transition, and doesn't say much about your attitude toward the resulting state of being a developer.

(And just so it's said, even though it's a bit off-topic and philosophical: There usually isn't a single event or process that changes your state. Once you land your first job where you're paid to develop software, you become a "professional" developer, but one could argue you were already a developer before that, and that's why they saw fit to pay you to be one.)


While other answers here are correct with more detail, here's a short-answer mnemonic that might help you remember:

When you [come to] be for the first time, you become.


There is a little difference between be and become. Become is used when you talk about permanent changes like "You have become intelligent." It means you read many things like books and newspapers. You are becoming studious day by day, and if you are saying here "You are being intelligent" it means not permanent, just like showing off.

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