In Spanish there are different ways to express "to become", which can be confusing for English speakers.
Depending on the context we use:
- convertirse (en) = to become
- hacerse = to become
- ponerse = to become
- quedarse = to become
1. Convertirse (en)
We use this to refer to "a radical change" in personality or in profession, for example:
Después de años trabajando como extra se convirtió en una actriz muy famosa.After years working as an extra she became a very famous actress.
El abuelo se ha convertido en un anciano muy gruñón.Grandpa has become a very grumpy old man.
Notice the preposition "en" is required after the verb.
We use this to refer to profession, ideology or religion.
Mi hermana se hizo dentista.My sister became a dentist.
Miguel se va a hacer republicano.Miguel is becoming a republican.
Se ha hecho vegetariana después de ver el documental.She became a vegetarian after watching the documentary.
Alicia se hizo católica.Alicia became a Catholic.
Note: convertirse en and hacerse are very often interchangeable, although convertirse en suggests a more radical change.
When we talk about someone becoming "famous", we can either say:
hacerse famoso/-a or convertirse en alguien famoso
Lady Gaga se hizo muy famosa en 2008.Lady Gaga became famous in 2008.
Lady Gaga se convirtió en una cantante famosa en 2008.Lady Gaga became a famous singer in 2008.
We use this to refer to temporary changes in health or mood, and to physical changes in general.
Mi hijo pequeño se puso enfermo.My younger son became ill.
Te pusiste muy triste.You became/got very sad.
Ella se puso roja al ver a Javier.She became/turned red when she saw Javier.
Mi padre se ha puesto muy gordo.My dad has become/got very fat.
We generally use this to refer to permanent physical changes.
Luis se quedó sordo de pequeño.Luis became deaf when he was a boy.
El pobre hombre se ha quedado paralítico.The poor man has become paralyzed.
All these verbs are pronominal verbs (i.e., have reflexive pronouns) but only convertirse is followed by the preposition "en".
See also Using volverse to express to become/to turn (verbs of change)
Want to make sure your Spanish sounds confident?
We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your
gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »