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 verbs quedarse and ponerse indicate a transformation of state and as such are close in meaning to the verb estar.


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:

Se hizo rico cotizando en la bolsa de valores.
He got rich trading on the stock market.


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:

Después de estudiar muchos años, León llegó a ser médico.
After studying for many years, León became a doctor.