1. Verbs that Emphasize the Process

Spanish, similar to languages like French or English, has verbs of change, becoming, or transformation. These emphasize the process of temporal or permanent change in the physical or emotional state of a person or object.



Elena se puso en forma para el maratón.

Elena got in shape for the marathon.

You will notice that most of the verbs we will be reviewing carry the "se" pronoun. This is because the action performed by the subject of the sentence falls on the subject itself. This also means that you will need to conjugate the verb accordingly, just as you would with other reflexive verbs.

Verbs that Emphasize the Process

Llegar a ser

Rule 1. The verbal periphrasis llegar a ser in Spanish expresses the change from one state to another while emphasizing the challenges or difficulty of the process. Therefore, it also emphasizes the progressive change that occurred over a long period of time.

Llegar a ser can also be interchanged with convertirse en.



A Brenda le costó mucho llegar a ser la empresaria que es hoy.

It took Brenda a long time to become the entrepreneur she is today.

Paola espinoza ha llegado a ser de las mejores clavadistas mexicanas.

Paola Espinoza has become one of the best Mexican divers.

As you'll notice from the examples, the verb llegar can be conjugated in the tense that best fits what you are trying to express. This is the case for all the verbs we will be reviewing.


Rule 2. The verb ponerse in Spanish expresses the change from one state to another while emphasizing the process or transition.



Mauricio se puso en forma este verano.

Mauricio got in shape this summer.

El semestre se puso muy difícil ya al final.

The semester became very difficult towards the end.

It is also commonly used with emotions. In this case, it refers to quick, brief changes.



Esa persona me está poniendo nerviosa.

That person is making me nervous.


Rule 3. The verb quedarse tends to be used in a negative light. It also expresses the change from one state to another while emphasizing the result of this transition. In contrast with ponerse, however, the changes expressed with this verb tend to be more permanent.



Todos los hombres de mi familia se han quedado calvos a partir de los 30.

All the men in my family have gone bald in their 30s.

Verbs that Express Emotional Changes

Rule 4. There are other verbs that highlight how a person has moved from one emotion to an opposite one rather than emphasizing the process or transition.

EmotionWhat it means
alegrarse de becoming cheerful after being sad, serious, etc.
enamorarse to fall in love with someone
cansarse from rested to tired
relajarse from nervous or stressed to relaxed
soprenderse move on to feeling surprised



Mi hermano se alegró al ver a su novia después de mucho tiempo.

My brother was happy to see his girlfriend after a long time.

Verbs that Express Physical Changes

Rule 5. Finally, some verbs emphasize changing from one physical state to another. These verbs tend to be used with objects.

EmotionWhat it means
apagarse from on to off
prenderse from off to on
calentarse from cold to warm/hot
enfriarse from hot to cold
mojarse from dry to wet
secarse from wet to dry



Ay no, la comida ya se enfrió.

Oh no, the food is already cold.



Por la lluvia ___ toda la ropa del tendedero.


correct answers.