Spanish Verbs of Change and Transformation – “Ponerse, Volverse…”

Spanish Verbs of Becoming

Welcome to our grammar lesson about Spanish verbs of change and transformation, also called verbs of becoming.

Verbs of becoming are those which express a change or transformation in someone or something.

In this lesson, we will study the most important Spanish verbs of change and becoming, noting their differences so that we can choose the right verb for each sentence.

List with verbs of change

The most frequent verbs of becoming in Spanish are:

ponerse
volverse
hacerse
quedarse
convertirse en
transformarse en

All of those verbs can mean “to become”, “to turn into”, or some other English verbs that are similar in meaning, all of them referring to a change.

For the rest of the lesson, we will study the exact meaning and use of each verb, providing example sentences.

Note: These Verbs are all Reflexive

All verbs of becoming in the list above are reflexive. That means every time we use them in a sentence, we need to place a reflexive pronoun in the right spot. Click here to review Spanish Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns.

Ponerse

Characteristics of “ponerse”:

  • Refers to a change that is rather quick.

Example sentences:

El semáforo se pone verde.
The traffic light turns green.

Me pongo colorado.
I blush. (I “become red”)

Te pones como un tomate.
You blush bright red (You “become like a tomato”)

Nos hemos puesto enfermos la vez.
We have got sick at the same time.

Volverse

Characteristics of “volverse”:

  • Refers to a slower, gradual change.

Example sentences:

Con el tiempo, estos perros se vuelven muy cariñosos.
With time, these dogs become very affectionate.

Londres se ha vuelto muy cara.
London has become very expensive.

Antes era optimista, pero con los años me he vuelto muy pesimista.
I used to be optimistic, but over the years I have become very pessimistic.

Hacerse

Characteristics of hacerse:

  • Refers to a personal change that tends to be about money, profession, religion or ideology.
  • Almost always introduces an adjective or the name of a profession

Example sentences:

Nos hacemos ricos.
We get rich.

Felipe se ha hecho policía.
Felipe has become a policeman.

Mi amigo se hizo budista.
My friend became buddhist.

Ellos se hicieron anarquistas.
They became anarchists.

Quedarse

Characteristics of “quedarse”:

  • It can mean “to end up”, “to be left…” or something similar.
  • Points to the result of some process or event, with potentially lasting consequences.

Example sentences:

Me quedé solo.
I ended up alone.

Te quedaste calvo.
You went / ended up bald.

María se ha quedado embarazada.
María has got pregnant.

Pablo se quedó con cara de tonto.
Pablo was left looking stupid.

Convertirse en – Transformarse en

Characteristics of these two verbs:

  • They refer to a total change or transformation, and sometimes entails a change in form or even in nature.
  • They introduce a noun.

Example sentences:

El agua se convierte en hielo.
The water turns into ice.

La leyenda dice que él se convirtió en piedra.
The legend says that he turned into stone.

La madera se transformó en oro macizo.
The wood transformed into solid gold.

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