Using the Spanish Verb ‘Quedar’

Meaning varies widely with context

four birds
Sólo quedan cuatro pájaros. (Only four birds remain.). Richard Taylor/Flickr

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 is used in specifying a location.

Quedar is a cousin of the English word "quiet." Both come from the Latin verb quietāre, which meant to calm down or make quiet. The closest quedar has to that meaning today is using it refer to something that is at rest in sense of remaining in a place.

Queder is conjugated regularly.

Using Quedar To Mean ‘Remain’ or ‘Stay’

Quedar is often used to indicate that someone or something is remaining or staying in a certain place. More broadly, it can be used simply to indicate where someone or something is located. As in the third and fourth examples below, the location can be a figurative rather than physical one.

  • 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.)
  • El estudiante dijo que la escuela queda cerca de su casa. (The student said the school is near his home.)
  • Los niños quedan en un limbo legal. (The children remain in a legal limbo.)
  • La recesión ha quedado atrás. (The recession is behind us.)

Using Quedar To Mean ‘Remain’ or ‘Be Left’

Quedar is often used after its verb in saying that persons or things remain in the sense of being left or available. The person or thing in possession or having available what remains can be represented by an indirect object pronoun.

  • Me quedan muchos problemas por resolver. (I have many problems left to solve.)
  • En este ocaso de mi vida sólo un deseo me queda. (On this occasion in my life I have only one wish remaining.)
  • Me quedan solo cinco dólares. (I have only five dollars left.)
  • Es lo único que me queda por saber. (It's the only thing remaining for me to know.)
  • Ahora muchos de ellos se han quedado sin trabajo. (Now many of them have become unemployed.)

Using Quedar for Appearances

How someone or something looks can be stated using quedar.

  • La camisa le queda bien. (The shirt looks good on him. Or, the shirt fits him well.)
  • No contestaré las preguntas que me hagan quedar mal. (I won't answer questions that make me look bad.)

Quedar for Agreements

Quedar can be used to refer to an agreement, especially an agreement to meet.

  • Mi novio y yo quedamos con unos amigos para comer. (My boyfriend and I agreed to meet with some friends to eat.)
  • Mis hermanas quedaron con nuestra madre. (My sisters agreed to get together with our mother.) 

Using Quedar for Pointing to a Result

Quedar can be used for showing the result of an action. Common translations are forms of "to be" as well as "to end up."

  • Brasil e Italia se quedaron con el 2-0. (Brazil and Italy ended up with a 2-0 score.)
  • 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?)
  • Los cocineros quedaron sorprendidos al descubrir la gran variedad de maíces que existen en el estado de Tlaxcala. (The cooks were surprised to discover the great variety of corns that exist in Tlaxcala state.)
  • 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.)

Using Quedarse

The reflexive form, quedarse, is usually used for staying in a place.

  • ¡Quédate donde estás! (Stay where you are.)
  • Vamos a quedarnos en casa. (We are going to stay at home.)
  • El coche se quedó en la calle delante del hotel. (The car remained on the street in front of the hotel.)

Quedarse can also be used with a gerund to indicate that an action continues. "Keep on" is a common translation.

  • Después del programa me quedé hablando con el productor. (After the program I kept on talking with the producer.)
  • Si necesitas llegar a la estación queda andando. (If you need to arrive at the station, keep on walking.)
  • Es ilógico que quede ganando menos salario que yo. (It's illogical that she keeps on earning less than I do.)

Key Takeaways

  • The most common meanings of quedar are to remain and to stay.
  • Quedar also has a wide range of other meanings, most of them used to indicate that someone or something is in a situation or place.
  • The reflexive form, quedarse, can be used with a gerund to indicate action that continues.