Monday, April 30, 2012

Y con eso, me queda sin palabras

If you're seeing the verb quedar for the first time you're in a for treat, because this post is going to give your Spanish a huge boost.  For the rest of you, you may be surprised to learn that quedar has more uses than you realized.  And for those of you who are already experts, don't hesitate to comment about things I may have overlooked.

Manos a la obra...let's get to work.

You can use quedar as a synonym for estar when it comes to location.

¿Me ayuda por favor? No sé dónde queda la tienda.
Can you help me please?  I don't know where the store is.

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

You could just have easily used estar in place of quedar.  Why use quedar instead of estar?  No reason at all to use one over the other, except for personal or regional preferences.

Quedar can be used to talk about what's left, or what's remaining.

¿Queda más pan?
Is there any bread left?

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

Nos quedan 20 minutos
We've got 20 minutes left

The idea of having something, or even nothing left over doesn't just extend to food and time.

Y con eso, me queda sin palabras
And with that, I'm speechless

Oddly enough, you can also use quedar to talk about your level of understanding.

Gracias por contestar mi pregunta, pero todavía no me queda muy claro.
Thanks for answering my question, but it's still not clear to me.

¿Te queda claro o todavía necesitas ayuda?
Is that clear or do you still need help?

Change the context and your tone of voice and you get a slightly different meaning.

¡Te dije que no!  ¿Te queda claro?
I said no!  Is that clear?

If you need to make arrangements to meet with someone, guess what verb you can use?  Yep, you guessed it, quedar.

¿A qué hora vamos a quedar?
What time are we going to meet?

¿Quedamos a las 8?
Can we meet at 8?

Here's where things can get a little messy.  When you use quedar in the present tense, you're making arrangements to meet, as in the examples above.  But things aren't always quite so clear when you use quedar in the past tense.  Here's an example.

Quedamos ayer.

That could mean one of two things.

Quedamos ayer.
We met yesterday.

Quedamos ayer.
Yesterday we agreed to meet.

So how do you know the difference?  Context.  Here are some less ambiguous examples.

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

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

I found this next usage of quedar a little surprising.

Todos los días paso por la heladería porque me queda de camino a casa
Everyday I pass by the ice cream shop because it's on my way home

¿Te queda en camino?
Is it on your way?

I actually posted about this ages ago.  You can read about it here.

OK, time for the next usage.

When it comes to talking about how clothes look and fit on yourself or someone else, quedar is your verb of choice.

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

Te queda preciosa
It's looks great on you

¿Cómo me queda?
How do I look?

Notice I translated queda as look.  The truth is, when it comes to clothing you can translate quedar as "to look" or "to fit" depending on the context.  Honestly, it's just something you have to get a feel for by using it and hearing it used.

Here are some more examples.

No te queda
That doesn't suit you

In this case our sentence could mean  "that's not you" / "that's not your style",  or maybe even  "that doesn't fit".  Context will make the difference in translation.  If you're trying on a bright red suit with yellow shoes and you're generally a conservative dresser, I'd go with "that's not your style".

Here are some more examples.

Creo que la falda que tienes, con esta blusa blanca, quedaría muy bonita.
I think that the skirt you have with this white blouse would look very pretty.

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

Te queda un poco ajustado.
It's a little tight on you.

Te queda chica (grande)
It's too small (big)

There's at least one other usage of quedar that I can think of, but but I'll get to that in an upcoming post.  I'll also take a look at the verb quedarse, so stay tuned.

¡Hasta la próxima!


  1. Earlier today I said "Quédese con el cambio" (Keep the change). And tonight "Me quedo en casa" (I am staying in), but those are reflexive uses.

  2. Fantastic article, helped me loads. Quedarse would be very useful too so please write that one!

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  4. I'm especially interested in the difference between quedar and quedarse so please address that when you cover quedarse. As for this post, I have a question. In the examples:

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

    Quedamos 20 minutos.
    We've got 20 minutes left

    Should the second be nos quedan 20 minutos? (quedarse, as with the question used) or quedamos or is either fine? In this case, is quedar the same as faltar? In other words, would nos faltan 20 minutos mean the same thing? And, is quedar the same as faltar and gustar grammatically (uses the third person)?

    1. Hi JB,

      You are correct, it should be "nos quedan 20 minutos".
      I don't know where my mind was at. I tend to make mistakes like that when I blog late at night. Thanks for catching that!

      I will get back to you on your other questions.

  5. I would say "Me quedo sin palabras" or "Me quedé sin palabras." All the examples I find online of "Me queda sin palabras" are either from your blog or links to your blog. Maybe it's a regional thing--?

    I also agree with JB above. I would say "Nos quedan 20 minutos."

    As far as making plans goes, I'm very familiar with "quedar en" for agreeing on sth. I've also heard "quedar de."

    "Bueno, ¿en qué quedaron entonces?"
    "Quedamos en encontrarnos a las 7."

    Where have you heard quedar = to meet? It's really interesting.

    You've also got my curiosity piqued to see what the other use of quedar that you didn't include is.

    Another use that you'll hear a lot and also see in Facebook comments all the time is quedar for turned out, talking about something you made/did.

    -¿Ya leiste mi última entrada?
    -Sí, te quedó súper.

    -Las empanadas me quedaron ricas pero feítas.

    1. Hey Katie,

      If you Google for "Me queda sin palabras" (with quotes) you'll find quite a few examples....


      * Otra cosa que me queda sin palabras...

      * Un titulo que define totalmente a las esculturas, yo cuando las vi me queda sin palabras para definirlas

      Anyway, I believe the difference between "me quedo..." and "me queda..." is probably "I'm speechless" vs "It leaves/makes me speechless". Just a guess.

      Regarding using quedar meaning to meet, I picked it up from my old Spanish tutor (a mexicana) and I've used it with everyone since then, Mexican or otherwise.

    2. I guess quedar is used like dejar in those examples. You're probably right-- it's more like leaves me speechless. Strange, I'd never seen/heard that usage before. Still, the verbs are very related. I still think that your construction sounds off, though. "Y con eso, me queda...". I can follow the reasoning of "esto"/"otra cosa"/etc. dejando/"quedando" a alguien sin palabras, acting as a transitive verb. I can't see the logic in "me queda" all by itself. BUT, that doesn't mean that there aren't some people (maybe even many) who use it that way. Still, it's not standard. Look at this:

      Still, I don't use my experience/familiarity with words as any kind of strict guide-- both are limited. Also, I encounter words and constructions every day that don't make any sense, and I just have to accept them. In addition, I also have to keep in mind that people use "bad" Spanish all the time, and this sometimes becomes accepted with time/frequency. Learners can't really be expected to be able to identify bad Spanish. In any event, it's not a phrase that I'm going to start using, but it's interesting to learn.

      Thanks for the response. And, yes, sure enough, you were right about quedar = to meet. According to what I've read, it's mostly used in Spain. I haven't heard it (so far) in Latin American Spanish, but I'll keep my ears perked for it.

  6. Great post as usual man. Very helpful.

    Can I make a request? How about all the uses of echar, llevar, or poner?