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 become 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".

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

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


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


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


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


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


Alicia se hizo católica.
Alicia become a catholic.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


Q&A

allison

Kwiziq community member

24 September 2018

1 reply

Problems with verbs of change

Ella ________ famosa después del anuncio de la tele. She became famous after the advert on the TV.

This example seems to be a consequential change (resulting from being on TV) not a voluntary change. The answer given is hacerse, but volverse seems more adequate if my understanding is correct. But this isn't even listed as a verb of change in the lesson. 

Isn't quedarse a better choice than hacerse? I thought hacerse meant a change as a result of a conscious and voluntary effort on the part of a person undergoing the change?

These verbs are so confusing!!!

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

25 September 2018

25/09/18

Hola Allison

Volverse is also right in this sentence as it is sometimes interchangeable with hacerse. (We have a lesson on "volverse" coming up. We didn't want to include it in this lesson as it brings confussion)

Quedarse is not an option here as quedarse is used for more "permanent physical changes" like "Se quedó calvo" (He became bald)

I hope this helped a bit

Inma

Alan

Kwiziq community member

11 August 2018

1 reply

Rationale and memory aid?

I notice from the examples that hacerse seems to be used (with few exceptions) when the change is under your control or voluntary. This is logical because you are "making yourself" change.

And quedarse means "keep", suggesting that you're stuck with the change permanently!

This seems to help me. I hope it helps other students.

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

12 August 2018

12/08/18

¡Hola Alan! Thanks a lot for your memory aid suggestion, it is great to hear that you found it useful for your learning, and we will take this into account for the future. Silvia.
Thinking...