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become vs. bekommen

become and bekommen is one of the most confusing pairs of false friends ever.

But they’re actually not that different. They just have different directions.

bekommen means to receive and so it’s essentially about something “reaching you”.
And now think about what to become means: it’s essentially about us reaching something, a stage or state.

And English actually has a verb that combines both ideas: to get.

  • I get an email.
  • I’m getting old.

In the first example, the emails reaches us, in the second example we reach the state of “old”.
The ancestor of bekommen and to become used to be just like this, but it started splitting up and the German version focused on receiving, while the English version focused on, well, becoming.

If you want to read more about this and see some examples,
you can check out this article on YourDailyGerman:

bekommen vs. to become – False Friends Explained