In Spanish there are six verbs for expressing a change or transformation. Whereas in English we say 'to become' or 'to turn', in Spanish the verbs of transformation are quedarse, ponerse, volverse, hacerse, convertirse and llegar a ser. This article explains how to use these verbos de cambio.
Verbs indicating a change of state
The verb quedarse + adjective or noun expresses a change after something happens. It often implies loss like for example quedarse ciego/mudo/sordo/calvo.
- Vicente se quedó ciego tras sufrir un infarto.
Vicente went blind after suffering an infarct.
It is also used in case of a pregnancy:
- Raquel se quedó embarazada de su primer niño.
Raquel became pregnant with her first child.
The verb quedarse con/sin can be used to express situations where someone is left with or without something. For example:
- Mi coche se ha quedado sin gasolina.
My car has run out of gas.
- Los hijos se quedaron con una herencia.
The children were left with an inheritance.
The verb ponerse + adjective expresses a rapid temporary change. The change can be physical, relate to mood or to health. For example:
- Rafa se puso blanco de ira.
Rafa became white-hot with anger.
Verbs indicating a change of characteristics
The following verbs indicate a change in characteristics and as such are close in meaning to the verb ser.
The verb volverse + adjective expresses a quick and lasting change in the character or attitude of a person or animal. The change usually is involuntary. For example:
- Se ha vuelto muy tímido.
He has become very shy.
The verb hacerse + adjective or noun is used to express a change of ideology, profession or other external aspects of a person. It implies a voluntary change or in which the subject has actively participated. For example:
The verb convertirse indicates a rapid and radical transformation. For example:
- La oruga se convierte en mariposa.
The caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
- Cuando el agua hierve se convierte en vapor.
When water boils it turns into steam.
Also the it can be used to indicate someone has converted to a religion. For example:
- Martín se ha convertido al cristianismo.
Martin has converted to Christianity.
llegar a ser
The verbal periphrasis llegar a ser indicates a progressive and positive change. It indicates a transformation that required time and effort in which it evolves for the better. The result of the change is highlighted. For example: