Spanish Language Blog

Los Verbos de Cambio Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Spanish Grammar

Los verbios de cambio are the ones that express a change or transformation. They are usually translated as “to become”, “to get”, “to go” or “to turn” in English.

In this post let’s compare some cases where the use of a specific verb changes the whole meaning of a sentences.


Quedarse contento / triste = Dejé a mi abuelo en casa de mis tíos y se quedó contento. [I dropped my grandpa off at my uncle’s house and he was/got happy.] It expresses a lasting state of happiness / sadness.

Ponerse contento / triste = Le llevé el libro a mi abuelo y se puso contento. [I took the book to my grandfather and he got happy.] It expresses an immediate state of happiness / sadness. My grandfather was not expecting me to bring him the book.


Hacerse rico = Trabajó toda su vida y se hizo rico. [He worked all his life and got rich.] We use hacerse when people take responsibility of the action. Obviously he had a fundamental role in the process of getting rich.

Volverse rico = Ganó la lotería y se volvió rico. [He won the lottery and became rich.] In this case he became rich out of the blue and had nothing to do with it, it was just luck.


Ponerse malo = La comida estaba estropeada y se puso malo. [The food was bad and he got sick.] Ponerse usually refers to a physical state change. We can say ponerse triste (to get sad), ponerse alegre (to get happy).

Volverse malo = Era un pan de Dios y se volvió malo. [He was an angel and he became bad.] We use volverse for a psychological change of state.


Hacerse tarde = Me voy porque se me hace tarde. [I’m leaving because it’s getting late.] Hacerse in this example conveys an impression or an opinión.

Quedarse (hasta) tarde = Me quedé en la fiesta hasta muy tarde. [I stayed at the party until very late.] In this case, quedarse means to physically stay at a place.


Hacerse profesor = Terminó el magisterio y se hizo profesor. [He finished his education and became a teacher.] In this case hacerse means to have a desired result after a process. You could also say that él se hizo médico, se hizo abogado, etc.

Meterse a profesor = Por ser inglés se metió a profesor. [Because he was English, he set out/became a teacher.] Meterse a ser algo usually means that the person doesn’t have the right qualifications or takes advantage of something to do something professionally.


Volverse loco = Me vuelvo loco cuando me engañan. [I go crazy when people deceive me.] As you saw with “volverse malo”, this verb shows a psychological change.

Hacerse el loco = Cada vez que le pregunto eso se hace el loco. [Every time I ask him this, he plays dumb.] In this case, hacerse el loco has an idiomatic use, “to play dumb” and gives a whole new meaning to the sentence.

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


  1. Margaret Nahmias:

    Llegar a ser is another that implies a long process.

  2. Kabir:

    I always used to wonder what the differences were. This is a really useful article; it will help me choose which verbo de cambio to use. Thanks a lot, Adir.

  3. Adir Ferreira:

    Thank you for commenting!