I encountered the following multiple-choice question on page 44 (question 1 in section 1) of my JLPT N2 grammar textbook 「新完全マスター文法 日本語能力試験N2」:

彼は(   )につれて、一人でいる時間が多くなっていった。

a 高校を卒業する   b 大人になる   c 社会人になる

I chose 「c 社会人になる」, but the answer given was 「b 大人になる」.

My textbook explains ~につれて as




「a 高校を卒業する」 is not a continuous change (だんだん変化すること), so I eliminated it. However, I cannot seem to identify a qualitative difference between options 「b 大人になる」 and 「c 社会人になる」:

(b) 彼は大人になるにつれて、一人でいる時間が多くなっていった。

He increasingly spent time alone as he became an adult.

(c) (?)彼は社会人になるにつれて、一人でいる時間が多くなっていった。

He increasingly spent time alone as he became a member of society.

It seems to me that both (b) and (c) are both unidirectional changes (一方方向の変化) that lie somewhere in the gray area between instantaneous changes and gradual transitions, but I cannot see a reason to prefer one over another. What am I missing here?

1 Answer 1


社会人になる is not a continuous change because it usually means (学校・大学などを卒業して)就職する・働き始める.

  • 1
    ... whereas 大人になる includes gradually acquiring "adult traits" and is not limited to reaching 成人年齢? That makes sense. Thanks!
    – L. F.
    Aug 19, 2022 at 14:23
  • 2
    @L.F. Right, 大人になる can mean 成長する "(gradually) grow up".
    – Chocolate
    Aug 19, 2022 at 14:26

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