Posted by: janecronin | April 14, 2019

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!  Don´t 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”.

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