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Using convertirse en / ponerse / hacerse / quedarse to express "to become" (verbs of change)

In Spanish there are different ways to express "to become", which can be confusing for an English speaker.

Depending on the context we use:

  • convertirse (en) = to become
  • hacerse to become
  • ponerse to become
  • quedarse = to become

1. Convertirse (en)

It is used when we refer to "a radical change" in personality or in profession, for example:

Después de años trabajando como extra se convirtió en una actriz muy famosa.After years working as an extra she became a very famous actress.

El abuelo se ha convertido en un anciano muy gruñón.Grandpa has become a very grumpy old man.

Notice the preposition "en" is required after the verb.

2. Hacerse 

It is used when we refer to profession, ideology or religion.

Mi hermana se hizo dentista.My sister became a dentist.

Miguel se va a hacer republicano.Miguel is becoming a republican.

Se ha hecho vegetariana después de ver el documental.She became a vegetarian after watching the documentary.

Alicia se hizo católica.Alicia became a catholic.

Note: convertirse en and hacerse are very often interchangeable, although convertirse en suggests a more radical change.

3. Ponerse

It is used when we refer to temporary changes in health, moods, and physical changes in general.

Mi hijo pequeño se puso enfermo.My younger son became ill.

Te pusiste muy triste.You became/got very sad.

Ella se puso roja al ver a Javier.She became/turned red when she saw Javier.

Mi padre se ha puesto muy gordo.My dad has become/got very fat.

4. Quedarse

It is generally used to refer to permanent physical changes.

Luis se quedó sordo de pequeño.Luis became deaf when he was a boy.

El pobre hombre se ha quedado paralítico.The poor man has become paralised.

All these verbs are pronominal verbs (i.e have reflexive pronouns) but only convertirse is followed by preposition "en".

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Examples and resources

Mi hermana se hizo dentista.My sister became a dentist.
Alicia se hizo católica.Alicia became a catholic.
Ella se puso roja al ver a Javier.She became/turned red when she saw Javier.
El abuelo se ha convertido en un anciano muy gruñón.Grandpa has become a very grumpy old man.
El pobre hombre se ha quedado paralítico.The poor man has become paralised.
Mi hijo pequeño se puso enfermo.My younger son became ill.
Después de años trabajando como extra se convirtió en una actriz muy famosa.After years working as an extra she became a very famous actress.
Luis se quedó sordo de pequeño.Luis became deaf when he was a boy.
Se ha hecho vegetariana después de ver el documental.She became a vegetarian after watching the documentary.
Te pusiste muy triste.You became/got very sad.
Miguel se va a hacer republicano.Miguel is becoming a republican.
Mi padre se ha puesto muy gordo.My dad has become/got very fat.
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