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I've heard several different words used for 'to become' in Spanish. Obviously sometimes there are specific verbs to use, like 'enfadarse' means to become angry, but often you need to use a verb that just means 'to become' along with a noun or adjective along with it.

Some of the more prevalent are hacerse, ponerse, convertirse en, etc. How can I learn to use these, and other words when necessary, to translate 'to become'? Are there some general rules to follow or will I need to memorize all of them on a case-by-case basis?

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As Randolf Rincón-Fadul says, it depends. e Learn Spanish Language contains a page where it shows some of the possible cases of translating 'to become'.

Also, I found a PDF file titled 23 Ways to Translate Become in Spanish, check it out.

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    +1 for the PDF link – razpeitia Nov 16 '11 at 17:38
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My 2 cents: Depends.

Two related examples:

to become an actor >> convertirse en actor

to become famous >> volverse famoso

It depends if its kind of a transformation (physical, educational and so on) you use "convertirse"; if it's something more light then you use "hacerse o volverse".

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    I become sad => Me pongo triste. – dusan Nov 16 '11 at 1:32
  • @dusan Thanks! Didn't think about it :S – Randolf Rincón Fadul Nov 16 '11 at 1:34
  • @dusan normally you won't hear "become" sad, but rather something like "I get sad..." or "it makes me sad...", or even using the verb "it saddens me...". – neizan Mar 7 '14 at 12:46
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I was surprised "llegar a ser" didn't make into the conversation already. While all the other forms mentioned are very common, I've heard this one plenty of times, and I think it's a useful one to know. This article mentions that "llegar a ser" "...typically suggests a long or difficult period of change to become something", which in my personal experience sounds reasonable. Furthermore, the comments in that same article concerning the formulation llegar a + infinitive are interesting.

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I am also surprised that "llegar a ser" didn't come up until neizan mentioned it. I'm also surprised, but to a lesser degree, that "quedar(se)" did not also make it into one of the answers here, nor was it a part of the previously referenced document, "23 Ways to Translate Become in Spanish." So, I'll take a minute or two to share with you what I've recently learned about it myself:

With regard to "quedar(se)" and examples of its use as a verb that means "to become," a book called A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish devotes a couple of small sections to this verb (at least it does in its 3rd edition). I've included a bit from the book below (formatted by yours truly for emphasis/easier reading):

The relationship between "quedarse" and "quedar" (when they are used as verbs of becoming, i.e., are followed by an adjective or participle) is affected by regional considerations that make it difficult to be precise about usage. In general, it seems to us that "quedarse" as a verb of becoming is much more common in Madrid, while "quedar" has a literary or regional character.

Examples:*

(a) In many cases, "quedarse" implies loss, incapacity or disadvantage:

Se quedó ciego/mudo/impedido/sordo. (He became blind/dumb/disabled/deaf.)**

¡Qué delgado te has quedado! (How thin you have become!)**

Me he quedado helado esperándote. (I've gotten/become frozen waiting for you.)

(b) In a few cases it does not imply loss or disadvantage:

¿Te has quedado contento? (Are you satisifed now?)(Literally, have you become content?)

Se quedó embarazada. (She became pregnant.)***

*Some of the English translations are my own.

**The book adds that in some Spanish regions "quedar" can be used instead of "quedarse" for sentences of this type.

***Though some sentences can use "quedar" instead of "quedarse," according to the book I've referenced here, "quedar" + "embarazada" is not how you say "She became pregnant," in Madrid, but it is acceptable in other parts of Spain; in Madrid, "quedarse" would be used instead.


One last thing I should add (and the book mentions this, too) is that both "quedar" and "quedarse" have other meanings besides the ones included here. I believe both are mainly used to mean "remain" or "stay." And though you can use this verb to mean "become," it appears other ways (such as the ones listed in the document suggested by dusan) are much more common. I am unaware of any set or fixed phrases involving "become" that require the use of "quedar" or "quedarse." If anyone does know of any, please share them with us.


By the way, in an effort to help preserve the intellectual property of those who wrote the book, A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish -- John Butt and Carmen Benjamin -- I didn't include every example the book provides, so you may want to see if you can get your hands on a copy of it either via your library or a bookstore. It is chock full of useful information about the Spanish language, and it is written in English. Though it is rather detailed, it is easy to read and understand, and I think most students of Spanish would learn a great deal from it.

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It depends of how great is the transformation "how much you are becoming" and this is related to the verb "be" in spanish, as "ser" and "estar" have a wide difference as "ser" is your very own definition and "estar" is just a temporary state.

so let's begin from the smallest to biggest

"to become" - silent -- for someone just to keep quite for a while

para "ponerse" en silencio

"to become better" -- not an actual transformation but an improvement of one self

para "ser/hacerse/volverse " mejor

"to become a star" -- a total transformation into something new

para "convertirse/ transformarse" en una estrella

remember that "become" is a deribation of "be"

so to be/to become can be switched

to be silent/quiet, to be a better, to be great

para estar callado, para ser mejor, para ser grandioso

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