One verb at a time

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Basic Spanish -

Quedar “Quedar” is quite a tricky verb to ex­plain. It’s used very com­monly in­deed in Span­ish in many ev­ery­day con­texts, but eludes di­rect trans­la­tion most of the time so is quite hard for peo­ple to hold in their heads. How­ever, fool-hardy as ever, I will give it a go.

First and fore­most, there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing to say about the con­ju­ga­tion of “quedar” so that’s some­thing at least. It is an en­tirely reg­u­lar, well-be­haved “-ar” verb with no odd ir­reg­u­lar forms hid­ing around the cor­ner. The difficulty re­ally comes in the trans­la­tion.

When I teach this verb I al­ways start with the re­flex­ive form, so that is what I’ll do now. “Quedarse” means “to stay”. Here are some ex­am­ples which I think are quite straight­for­ward: “Cuando voy a Inglaterra me quedo en la casa de mi her­mano” (When I go to Eng­land I stay in my brother’s house). “De­spués de la clase se quedó para hablar con la pro­fe­sora” (Af­ter the class s/he stayed to talk to the teacher). “Qué­date ahí, no te muevas” (Stay there! Dont´ move!)

There are other uses of “quedarse” which are a lit­tle more ab­stract. For ex­am­ple, we can use it to de­scribe var­i­ous emo­tional, usu­ally neg­a­tive, re­ac­tions. “Cuando oyó la noti­cia, se quedó atónito” (When he heard the news he was as­ton­ished). Here “quedarse” car­ries a fur­ther mean­ing which is “to re­main” or “to be left” – so we could trans­late the sen­tence “Cuando oyó la noti­cia, se quedó atónito” (When he heard the news he was left in an as­ton­ished state”). As you can see, we are al­ready mov­ing away from some­thing that is eas­ily trans­lat­able into English. A very com­mon col­lo­quial ex­pres­sion when we are shocked by some­thing is “quedarse helado/a” which would be some­thing like “frozen to the spot”. “Cuando me dijo eso, me quedé helada” (When he said that to me, I was left frozen to the spot). I’m try­ing to avoid the word “gob-smacked” but ac­tu­ally that is prob­a­bly the ex­pres­sion that best con­veys the idea.

I’m go­ing to move straight on now to the use of “quedar” in its non-re­flex­ive form. This is used all the time to talk about so­cial ar­range­ments. As you are fully aware, the Span­ish are gen­er­ally highly so­cia­ble peo­ple, but at the same time, they are rather averse to mak­ing fixed ar­range­ments. Whereas I carry a di­ary and make a note of so­cial meeting in two weeks, in­clud­ing time and place, the Span­ish will make loose ar­range­ments, to be con­firmed or changed much nearer the time. This is all sorted out us­ing the verb “quedar”. “¿A qué hora quedamos?” (What time did we ar­range to meet?) “¿Dónde quedamos?” (Where did we ar­range to meet?). “No puedo, he quedado con mi her­mano” (I can’t – make it – I’ve ar­ranged to meet my brother). “¿Quedamos para mañana?” (Shall we ar­range to meet to­mor­row?) “Luego te llamo y quedamos” (I’ll phone you in a while and we’ll ar­range some­thing). So you see, to be cool, use “quedar”.

Me quedé dormida

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