quedar vs. ‘to be’, ‘to have’, ‘to stay’ etc.

Commonly confused words:
‘to be’ in English
– and the various meanings of ‘quedar’ (Sp.)

There are various ways in English to express the idea of the Spanish verbs ‘quedar’ and ‘quedarse’.

A common mistake (often made by language learners who have not studied a balanced general English course) is overuse of the verb “to stay” when trying to form a sentence in English.  This can result in some unusual sentences – and sometimes be (like it?!)  puzzling to an English speaker who does not know the Spanish language.

These notes are not the shortest, as a few examples are necessary.
Take time to work through the different meanings.

to be

Can you help me please?  I don’t know where the shop is.
¿Me ayuda por favor? No sé dónde queda (/está) la tienda.

Turn right, it’s just there, next to the bank.
Dobla a la derecha. Ahí queda, junto al banco.

It can also be expressed in the idea of

to have ‘left’ / to be ‘left’

…or what is ‘left’  (i.e. “to be ‘left'”).
Is there any wine left?
¿Queda más vino?

How much time have we got left?
¿Cuánto tiempo nos queda?
How much time is left?
¿Cuánto tiempo queda?

This idea of having something, or even nothing left over doesn’t just extend to food and time. It can also extend to words and thoughts!

I’m speechless!
Me quedo sin palabras

My mind’s (=mind has) gone blank.
Me quedo en blanco.

When using quedar to talk about your level of understanding, use ‘to understand’. ‘To be clear’ is also possible, although perhaps not as common.

Thanks for answering my question, but it’s still not clear to me / I’m not sure I understand.
Gracias por contestar mi pregunta, pero todavía no me queda muy claro.

Is that clear / Do you understand it now,  or do you still need help?
¿Te queda claro o todavía necesitas ayuda?

Making arrangements

From time to time we all need to make arrangements, or plans to meet someone. Use the verb ‘to be’, either with:

the present continuous (+ future time expression)
with  ‘going to’.

What time are we meeting this evening?
or What time are we going to meet this evening?
¿A qué hora vamos a quedar esta tarde / tarde-noche?

Shall we meet at eight o’clock?
¿Quedamos a las 8?

Did you talk to Victor?  Yes, we met yesterday.
¿Hablaste con Victor?  Sí, quedamos ayer.

Yesterday we agreed to go dinner today.
Ayer quedamos en que vamos a ir a cenar hoy

Clothes, fabrics and furniture
– or how something looks

If you’re talking about how clothes look and fit on yourself or someone else, we often say ‘That looks … ‘ or our old favourite the verb ‘to be’ – as in  ‘That’s ….’

That looks good on you.
Eso te queda muy bien.

It looks great on you
It looks very nice on you
Te queda preciosa

How do I look? / How does it look (on me)?
¿Cómo me queda?

Here are some more examples:

It’s a little loose on you.
Te queda un poco suelto.

It’s a bit tight..!
Te queda un poco ajustado.

That doesn’t suit you.
No te queda (/pega) bien.

Where you sleep at night /
your accommodation (when away from home)

SUGGESTION: Have a look at the following different meanings, and then think of some examples of your own.

‘to stay’ = hospedarse, es decir se usa para hablar de hospedarse en un sitio.

Q: Where did you stay while you were in Shrewsbury?
A: I stayed with my cousin.

Q: Did you stay in the ‘Ritz’ when you were in London?
A: No, I didn’t. I stayed in a ‘bed and breakfast’ in Earl’s Court.
‘To stay’  = quedarse, en el sentido de quedarse en un sitio sin irse a otro.
In this sense, ‘to stay’ means the opposite of to leave.

I stayed in London for ten days.
She stayed at home all weekend.
I’m staying here a few more days, but then I’m leaving for Bristol.
Stay/wait here for a minute. I’ll be back.

Como mucha gente ha aprendido que stay debería traducirse como estar, cuando tienen que preguntar cosas como “Dónde estuviste?” lo intentan poner. Muy mal! Lo correcto es:

Dónde estuviste? = Where were you?

A place to stay
A place to stay

And finally, there are some useful expressions to memorise:

stay calm = mantener la calma

stay up = not go to bed (late at night) = no acostarse (y mantenerse despierto).

stay in = quedarse en casa


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