Using volverse to express to become/to turn (verbs of change)

In Spanish the verb volverse is used to express change in a person or a situation, the same way in English "become/turn" is used, for example: "Andrew became a vegetarian in his fifties" or "Her attitute turned very selfish". 

Have a look at the following examples:

Ella se volvió muy presumida a los quince años.
She became very vain at fifteen.

Su actitud se volvió violenta de repente.
His attitude turned aggressive all of a sudden.

Luis y Marta se han vuelto una pareja aburrida.
Luis and Marta have become a boring couple.

Generally volverse is used to indicate changes in a person's character, personality or attitude. You will find it followed by either an adjective or a noun (sometimes with an article).

Bear in mind that there are other verbs that also express change:

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

To learn more about these verbs see Using convertirse en / ponerse / hacerse / quedarse to express "to become" (verbs of change).

  • In certain cases ponerse and volverse are interchangeable, for example:

Antonio se ha puesto nervioso. Necesita un calmante.
Antonio has become nervous. He needs some medication.

Antonio se ha vuelto más nervioso en los últimos años.
Antonio has become more nervous in the last few years.

In the first example ponerse implies a more temporary change whilst in the second volverse implies a more permanent change.

  • In the same way, sometimes hacerse and volverse are interchangeable, for example:

Megan se ha hecho española.
Megan has become Spanish.

Megan se ha vuelto española.
Megan has become Spanish.

In the first example, using hacerse, the change is thought to be "intentional", meaning in this case that she has become Spanish by obtaining Spanish nationality. 

In the second example, using volverse, the change is thought to be "unintentional" -as if she is "behaving" like a Spanish person- as a result of living in Spain, for example.

Remember that volverse used with this meaning is always a reflexive verb.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ella se volvió muy presumida a los quince años.
She became very vain at fifteen.


Su actitud se volvió violenta de repente.
His attitude turned aggressive all of a sudden.


Luis y Marta se han vuelto una pareja aburrida.
Luis and Marta have become a boring couple.


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