Comprehensive guide to the verb "quedar"

"Quedar" is one of the most common and versatile verbs in Spanish. Learn to use it like a native.

Sep 28, 2019
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The verb quedar can be very confusing for Spanish students because of the many uses it has. Not only does it have several meanings, it also has three different grammatical forms.

Want to learn how to understand and use this tricky but essential verb? Our complete guide will show you how!

The feeling

Quedar is a verb with a general feeling of being left or remaining in a given location or state. If you have five dollars left, te quedan cinco dólares. If you're left blind after an accident, quedas ciego. If you stay at a hotel, te quedas en un hotel.

There are lots of exceptions as you'll see below, but this intuition should help you understand the essence of quedar and use it in many common situations.

Forms and uses

The three grammatical forms of quedar are:

  • No direct or indirect object
  • Pronominal form
  • As a verb like gustar

Let's see how they work:

Quedar: no direct or indirect object

This form of quedar takes neither a direct (such as lo) nor indirect (such as le) object. It has the grammatical structure: subject + verb + complement.

Quedar: to be located (only places)

Quedar can be used to express the location of a place, but only a place; it cannot be used for people or things.

  • El museo de arte moderno queda cerca de la biblioteca pública.
    The Modern Art Museum is close to the public library.

Quedar (como): to come across (as)

This use is like the English "to come across". In this case you can combine quedar with certain adverbs such as bien/mal or use como + adjective.

  • Andrea, si no le pagas a tiempo vas a quedar mal.
    Andrea, if you don’t pay on time you’re going to look bad.
  • Si no entregas el informe hoy vas a quedar como irresponsable.
    If you don’t hand in the report today you’re going to come across as irresponsible.
  • Después de esa escena de celos que le hiciste a tu novio quedaste como una loca.
    After that jealous scene you made with your boyfriend you came across as crazy.

Quedar en: to agree to

  • No puedo salir contigo hoy porque quedé en ayudarle a mi sobrino con sus tareas.
    I can’t go out with you today because I agreed to help my nephew with his homework.

Quedar a: to set the time for a meeting or event

  • Ellos quedaron a las 8 para ver una película en Netflix.
    They decided to meet at 8 to watch a movie on Netflix.

Quedar(se): to end up or be left in a (generally negative) state

This use of quedar is to describe how someone or something is "left" or how they "end up" as a result of a generally negative event. The reflexive pronoun can be optionally used for emphasis, but does not change the meaning.

  • Después del accidente, él quedó paralítico y ella quedó muy triste.
    After the accident he ended up paralyzed and she was left very sad.

For more information on quedar as a verb of change, take a look at our post How to say "to become" in Spanish.

Quedarse: pronominal form

In this form the verb takes a reflexive pronoun, becoming quedarse (me quedo, se quedaron, etc). It has the grammatical structure: subject + reflexive pronoun + verb + complement.

Quedarse: to stay (in a place, with someone, etc)

Quedarse is commonly used to express staying in a place or with someone for some amount of time.

  • Pablo se quedó en un hotel mientras fumigaban su apartamento.
    Pablo stayed in a hotel while his house was being fumigated.
  • Los niños se quedan con la abuela cuando los padres están de viaje.
    The children stay with their grandmother when their parents are travelling.

Quedarse con: to keep (something)

Quedarse con expresses keeping something, whether it be for a good reason such as receiving an inheritance or a bad one such as committing theft or fraud.

  • Yo le presté un libro a Andrea el año pasado y ella se quedó con él.
    I lent Andrea a book last year and she didn’t give it back.

Quedarse sin: to run out of

  • Tengo que ir a la tienda porque nos quedamos sin leche.
    I have to go to the store because we ran out of milk.

Quedarse(le): to be left unintentionally

This is a use of the passive voice in Spanish, where we blame objects for the action taken place; we cannot blame ourselves since it was unintentional.

  • Las llaves se quedaron dentro del carro.
    The keys were left in the car.
  • La tarea se quedó sobre la cama.
    The homework was left on the bed.

We can also add an indirect object to the formula when we want to emphasize that the action affects someone or to indicate who is responsible. This is the most common way to say that you have forgotten or left something somewhere.

  • Las llaves se te quedaron dentro del carro.
    You left the keys in the car.
  • Yo hice la tarea pero se me quedó sobre la cama.
    I did the homework but I left it on the bed.

Quedar(le): as a verb like "gustar"

When we say "as a verb like gustar", what we are referring to is that it expresses something being a certain way, often to someone.

While gustar means "to be pleasing", we can think of quedar roughly as "to be left (over)".

When used without an indirect object, it just means that in general something is left over (quedan 5 minutos - there are 5 minutes left). When we give it an indirect object, however, it indicates that there is someone or something affected by it (nos quedan 5 minutos - we have 5 minutes left).

Quedar(le): to be left (over)

Quedar can be used to indicate that some part of something remains or is left over.

Without indirect objectWith indirect object
Quedan 3 cervezas en la nevera y queda un pedazo de pizza.
There are only 3 beers left in the fridge and there’s also one slice of pizza.
Nos quedan 3 cervezas en la nevera y nos queda un pedazo de pizza.
We have 3 beers left in the fridge and one slice of pizza.

Quedar(le) por: to be left to do

This usage of quedar with the preposition por is used to indicate an unfinished activity.

Without indirect objectWith indirect object
Quedaron algunas preguntas por responder.
There are some questions left to be answered.
Les quedaron algunas preguntas por responder.
They have some questions left to answer.

Quedar(le) + adjective/adverb: to turn out, to end up

Quedar can be used to express the end result of some action or process, like the English "to turn out" or "to end up".

Without indirect objectWith indirect object
La sopa quedó muy salada.
The soup turned out really salty.
La sopa me quedó salada.
The soup turned out really salty on me.

Quedarle + adjective/adverb: to suit, to fit

This use of quedar is very common when speaking about how certain things look on someone or suit them, such as clothing, make-up, hair colour, perfume, etc.

  • Sara no compró el vestido porque le quedaba muy grande.
    Sara didn’t buy the dress because it was too big for her.
  • Quiero volverme a tinturar el cabello porque este color rojo no me queda bien.
    I want to dye my hair again because this red color doesn’t look good on me.

Now, are you ready to practice using the verb quedar? Check out our exercise section or give our podcast a listen!

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