Using the Spanish Verb Quedar

Meaning Depends on Context

four birds
Sólo quedan cuatro pájaros. (Only four birds remain.). Photo by Richard Taylor; licensed via Creative Commons.

Although quedar usually has the dictionary meaning of "to stay" or "to remain," its usage is more flexible than that simple translation might suggest. Even more so than with most verbs, the translation of quedar depends on the context.

Quedar frequently suggests that something is a certain way or in a certain position because of some action. Often it can be translated as a form of "to be," especially when it could be replaced by "to lie" as in the first three examples below.

Examples of Quedar in use

  • La recesión ha quedado atrás. (The recession is behind us.)
  • El pueblo más cerca, Loppiano, queda a 5 km, 10 minutos en coche. (The closest town, Loppiano, is five kilometers away, 10 minutes by car.)
  • Se pudo observar que miles de peces quedaron muertos en las orillas, como consecuencia de los contaminantes. (It was observed that thousands of fishes were dead on the shore as a result of the pollution.)
  • En ese momento quedó roto el diálogo. (At that moment, the dialog came to a halt.)
  • Ahora muchos de ellos se han quedado sin trabajo. (Now many of them have become unemployed.)
  • Cuando terminas con una relación con tu pareja, ¿quedan como amigos o no se hablan más? (When you break up with your partner, do you become just friends or do you not talk with each other any more?)
  • No contestaré las preguntas que me hagan quedar mal. (I won't answer questions that make me look bad.)
  • Es lo único que me queda por saber. (It's the only thing remaining for me to know.)
  • Después del programa me quedé hablando con el productor. (After the program I kept on talking with the producer.)
  • Brasil e Italia se quedaron con el 2-0. (Brazil and Italy ended up with a 2-0 score.)