Expressing To Become

One of the hardest verbs to translate into Spanish is the English word “to become”. A quick look at an English/Spanish dictionary will show you that there are numerous definitions for this verb in Spanish. You can use “become” in a variety of situations in English that in Spanish you would need a different verb. In English you can “become tired” or “become a lawyer” or “become angry”. You can use “to become” to talk about the change in the state of something. Water “becomes” ice in cold temperatures. Again, in Spanish different verbs are used to express these different ideas. There is no one verb that is an exact translation of the English verb “to become”. This lesson will clear up when to use which Spanish verb for expressing “to become”. I provided the conjugations for the irregular verbs in the preterit and present tenses that can mean “to become”.

“Hacerse” can be used to express a change obtained through effort or intent.
Present tense conjugations of “hacerse”
 (yo) me hago (tú) te haces (él) se hace (ella) se hace (usted) se hace (nosotros) nos hacemos (ellos/ellas) se hacen (ustedes) se hacen

Preterit tense conjugations for “hacerse”
(yo) me hice (tú) te hiciste (él) se hizo (ella) se hizo (usted) se hizo (nosotros) nos hicimos (ellos/ellas) se hicieron (ustedes) se hicieron
1.   To become a professional at something:
Me hice doctor el año pasado.                                
I became a doctor last year.

Se hicieron abogados para defender a los pobres.
They became lawyers to defend the poor.
Ella se hizo maestra en mayo.
She became a teacher in May.
2. To become a trait by putting forth effort.

Se hizo rico en Venezuela.
He got/became rich in Venezuela.
Yo me hice organizado para mejorar mi vida.
I became organized to improve my life.
3. To intentionally become something.

Se hicieron amigos cuando se conocieron hace un mes.
They became friends when they met last month.
Nos hicimos cristianos el año pasado.
We became Christians last year.
El hombre se hace bueno cuando descubre dios. =
The man becomes good when he discovers God.
4. Set expressions that express “becoming”. 
Se está haciendo tarde.  
It’s getting/becoming late.
Se está haciendo más difícil.  
(The situation) is getting/becoming more difficult.

“Volverse” can be used for expressions of “to become” when you want to express a sudden drastic change. It is followed by an adjective. See the examples below after the present and preterit tense conjugations.
(yo) me vuelvo (tú) te vuelves (él) se vuelve (ella) se vuelve (usted) se vuelve (nosotros) nos volvemos (ellos/ellas) se vuelven (ustedes) se vuelven

Preterit tense conjugations for “volverse”

(yo) me volví (tú) te volviste (él) se volvió (ella) se volvió (usted) se volvió (nosotros) nos volvimos (ellos/ellas) se volvieron (ustedes) se volvieron


1. To suddenly arrive at a different state.

Me volví loco cuando pasé el día con mis niños.  
I went crazy when I spent the day with my kids.
Paco se vuelve tonto  cuando está borracho.
Paco becomes stupid when he’s drunk.
2. To suddenly change a state like a color or consistency.
El líquido  se vuelve más blanco con los productos químicos.          
The liquid becomes whiter with the chemicals.

El agua se volvió hielo por el frío.
The water became ice because of the cold.

“Llegar a ser” can also be used to express “to become” in Spanish. It often is used to state that a person intentionally but gradually became something (like a lawyer or doctor) through effort.
Después de muchos años en la Universidad Juan llegó a ser profesor de matemáticas.
After many years at the University Juan became a math professor.
Si llego a ser medico te ayudaré.  
If I become a doctor I’ll help you.

“Ponerse” can also be used to express “to become” in Spanish. It is used in situations where the change came about without the intent of the subject being described. This verb would be used to talk about arriving at a state like becoming sick, bored, or angry.
Present tense conjugations of “ponerse”
 (yo) me pongo (tú) te pones (él) se pone (ella) se pone (usted) se pone (nosotros) nos ponemos (ellos/ellas) se ponen (ustedes) se ponen

Preterit tense conjugations for “ponerse”

(yo) me puse (tú) te pusiste (él) se puso (ella) se puso (usted) se puso (nosotros) nos pusimos (ellos/ellas) se pusieron (ustedes) se pusieron

  Me pongo nervioso cuando hablo con mi jefe.
I become/get nervous when I talk to my boss.
Se puso celoso cuando el hombre habló con su esposa.
He became jealous when the man spoke with his wife.
Se pusieron enfermos después de comer la comida mala.
They became sick after eating the bad food.
Te pones enojado cuando tus estudiantes no te hacen caso.
You become angry when your students don’t listen to you.
 Present tense conjugations of “convertirse”

“Convertirse” is yet another way to express “to become” in Spanish. This verb is used to express a change in state, but usually when referring to a thing and not a person. It can also be translated into “to turn into”.

(yo) me convierto (tú) te conviertes (él) se convierte (ella) se convierte (usted) se convierte (nosotros) nos convertimos (ellos/ellas) se convierten (ustedes) se convierten

Preterit tense conjugations for “convertirse”

(yo) me convertí (tú) te convertiste (él) se convirtió (ella) se convirtió (usted) se convirtió (nosotros) nos convertimos (ellos/ellas) se convirtieron (ustedes) se convirtieron

El partido se convirtió en una pelea cuando Juan y Paco empezaron a pelear.
The game became a fight when Juan and Paco started fighting.

El campo se convierte en ciudad cuando llega mucha gente.
The country becomes a city when many people arrive.
México se convierte en un país poderoso.
Mexico becomes a powerful country.
El número tres se convierte en cuatro cuando lo sumas con uno.
The number three becomes four when you add it with one.

Some verbs in Spanish have “to become” built in. Many of these verbs start with the prefix “en”. Here are just a few examples:
Engordecer = To get fat.
Te vas a engordar si comes tanto helado. You’re going to get fat if you eat so much ice cream.
Mi hermano se engordó cuando se mudó aquí. My brother got fat when he moved here.
Enfermarse: = To get sick.
Me enfermé durante mi vacación en las montañas.
I got sick during my vacation in the mountains.
Mi hijo se enferma cada invierno. My son gets sick every winter.
Enojarse: = To get angry.
Ella se enoja cuando pierde las llaves. She gets angry when she loses her keys.
Yo me enojé contigo. I got mad at you.
Emocionarse: = To get excited

Me emociono cuando veo a mi perro.
I get excited when I see my dog.
Se emocionaron durante el partido.
They got excited at the game.

Worksheets for Expressing “To Become” in Spanish:

  • Verbs Meaning "To Become" Matching Exercise
  • Verbs Meaning To Become Word Order Exercise
  • Fill in the Blanks