In this lesson, I will cover the topic of how to say "to become" in Spanish. Many of my students have also asked this same question. This question doesn't have an easy answer, because Spanish has different words according to what kind of change we are talking about. This Lesson is about Verbos de Cambio, the different verbs that we use to explain the change from one condition to another condition.
Ponerse: Is a verb used to speak about a change that is sudden, involuntary and temporary. For example, if the teacher asked you something in front of the class, you can say:
Me puse nervioso, porque no sabía la respuesta. (I became nervious because I didn´t know the answer.)
Typical expressions with Ponerse are: Ponerse colorado/a, Ponerse triste, Ponerse contento/a, Ponerse verde de envidia, Ponerse mal.
Volverse: Is a verb used to speak about a change involuntary but not temporary, it is permanent. For example:
Después de las crisis mucha gente se volvió pobre. (After the crisis, many people became poor.)
You can use Volverse + Adjective or Volverse + una persona + Adjective.
Typical expressions with volverse are: Volverse loco/a, volverse una persona arrogante, volverse una persona introvertida, volverse paranoico.
Hacerse: With this verb we speak about a change gradual and voluntary. For example: Juan Perez se hizo rico vendiendo computadoras. (Juan Perez became rich selling computers.)
Also, with Hacerse we make reference to religious and ideological changes.
Madonna se hizo judía. /Manuel se hizo socialista cuando se fue a vivir a Argentina. (Madonna became Jewish. / Manuel became a socialist when he moved to Argentina.)
Convertirse: Is like Hacerse, a gradual change but sometimes it is voluntary and sometimes is not voluntary. We use it generally to speak about professions or places.
For example: Después de mucho estudiar, Marcela se convirtió en médica. (After a lot of studying, Marcela became a doctor.)
Cuando Steve Jobs murió, Tim Cook se convirtió en el presidente de Apple. (When Steve Jobs died, Tim Cook became Apple's CEO.)
Esa ciudad se convirtió en un lugar muy inseguro desde que se instalaron muchos narcos. (That city became very unsafe after many drug dealers came.)
Mi restaurante se convirtió en un sitio muy popular desde que salió en esa revista.
(My restaurant became a popular place after it was mentioned in that magazine.)
Quedarse: This verb is used many times to speak about the result of an accident.
For example: Después del accidente Francisco se quedó ciego. (After the accident Francisco became blind.)
It is also the result of a process, and in this case we don´t use Quedar like a reflexive verb. Después de dos días de trabajo: la pared quedó pintada. (After two days of work: the wall was painted.)
Mónica fue al salón de belleza y quedó muy linda. Monica went to the salon and ended up very pretty.)