Preparing for the 'oposiciones': resulting copular/linking verbs

The so-called copular or linking verbs (verbos copulativos) have the following structure:
subject + copular verb + subject complement
They can be divided into current copular verbs, like to be, to look, to appear, to seem, etc, which generally express state or condition, and resulting copular verbs, like to become, to get, to grow, to go, to turn, etc., which generally express change or result.

Today, we are going to have a look at the most common resulting copular verbs (to become, to get, to go, to grow and to turn, their meanings, distinctive semantic features and collocations.

Resulting copular/linking verbs:

Analysis by distinctive semantic features 

to become = to begin to be (llegar a ser, hacerse) [change in people’s emotional, physical state or status]
to get = to change to a new state, situation or feeling (volverse, ponerse) [change in state or condition]
to go = to change, generally for the worse  (volverse peor, quedarse ciego, sordo, calvo, etc.) [change for the worse] 
to grow = to change over a period of time (hacerse, ponerse, volverse de manera gradual) [gradual change] 
to turn = to start to have a different quality, or to make sth do this, often abruptly or unexpectedly (ponerse, volverse, cambiar de color o el tiempo, a menudo de manera repentina o inesperada   [change in colour or the weather, often abrupt change] 

Lexical collocations        

to become:
a lawyer/a doctor/a teacher/ an architect/famous/king/queen/President/Prime Minister (hacerse/llegar a ser abogado/médico/profesor/arquitecto/famoso/rey/reina/primer ministro)
friends (hacerse amigos)
ill (ponerse enfermo/enfermar)
clear/evident (verse claro/hacerse evidente)

to get:
angry (ponerse furioso, enfadarse)
hungry/thirsty (entrar hambre/sed)
tired (cansarse)
lost (perderse)
killed (ser muerto)
brown (ponerse moreno)
caught (ser cogido/atrapado)
married (casarse)
hot/cold (calentarse/enfriarse algo; entrar calor/frío a alguien)
dark (oscurecer, hacerse de noche)
pregnant (quedarse embarazada)
well/better/worse (ponerse bien/mejor/peor)
late (hacerse tarde)
dressed (vestirse)
drunk (emborracharse)
fat (engordar)
old (envejecer)
tired (cansarse)
wet (mojarse)
used to/accustomed to (acostumbrarse a)
broken (romperse)
lost (perderse)
sacked (ser despedido de un trabajo)

to grow:
old (hacerse viejo/envejecer)
fat (ponerse gordo, engordar)
bored (with) [aburrirse(de)]
tired (of) [cansarse/hartarse(de)]
worse/better (ponerse peor/mejor, empeorar/mejorar)
impatient (impacientarse)
cold/hot) (enfriarse/calentarse; entrar frío/calor)
dark (hacerse de noche, anochecer, oscurecer)
rich(er) (enriquecerse, hacerse más rico)
big(ger) (crecer, hacerse/volverse más grande)
smaller (empequeñecer, hacerse/volverse más pequeño)
taller (crecer, ponerse más alto)
weak(er) (debilitarse, volverse más débil)
accustomed to (acostumbrarse a (algo/alguien) poco a poco)

to go
crazy/mad (volverse loco)
blind/deaf/bald (quedarse ciego/sordo/calvo)
bankrupt (arruinarse, quebrar/ir a la bancarrota)
unnoticed (pasar desapercibido)
white/pale (ponerse blanco/palidecer)
wild  (enloquecer, ponerse furioso)
bad [estropearse/echarse a perder (alimentos)]
sour [ agriarse (vino/leche); cortarse (leche); estropearse (relaciones)]
wrong/right (salir mal/bien)

to turn:

red/blue/white/grey (ponerse, volverse colorado/azul/blanco/gris)
brown (volverse doradas, las hojas de los árboles)
pale (ponerse pálido)
sour (agriarse, la leche)
cold/hot (volverse frío/caluroso, el tiempo)
windy (levantarse viento)
nasty (ponerse fea, una situación); volverse antipática/ponerse agresiva, una persona)
violent (volverse violento)
traitor (volverse traidor)
an actor turned politician (un actor que se ha hecho/vuelto político)

Collocations of other, less common, resulting linking verbs

to come:
undone (a button, a knot, shoelaces) (desabrocharse, un botón); desatarse, nudo/córdones)
loose (a door handle) (soltarse/aflojarse, el pomo de una puerta) 
true (a dream) (hacerse realidad, un sueño)
right (salir bien algo)
clean (confesarlo todo, sincerarse)
of age (llegar a la mayoría de edad)

to fall

asleep (quedarse dormido)
ill (caer enfermo)
silent (quedarse callado)
in love (enamorarse)

to prove

difficult/easy, etc. (resultar difícil/fácil, etc.)
useful/helpful, etc. (resultar útil/de gran ayuda, etc.)
embarrassing/a problem,, etc. (resultar embarazoso/un problema, etc.)

to run wild - desmadrarse
to slam shut - cerrarse de un portazo, una puerta o una ventana
to spring open - abrirse algo  de golpe

As we can see by the examples above, all resulting linking verb express change or result, but they can have different shades of meaning: 'to start to have a  feeling or quality' , or 'to start to develop into something' (to become), 'to start to have a feeling or quality' (to get, generally more informal than to become), 'a gradual change' (to grow), 'a change for the worse generally' (to go), 'a change in colour, the weather or people's behaviour, often sudden or unexpected' (to turn), etc.
There is, however, a certain overlapping, and often the same idea can be expressed by two or three different verbs: to get/grow fat (engordar, though grow lays the emphasis in a gradual change), to become/fall/get/ill (enfermar, though get has a more informal style, and fall is more formal), to become/get/grow tired (cansarse), to become/get/grow accustomed to (acostumbrarse a), to become/turn/go sour (agriarse, la leche), etc.


Fill in the blanks with an appropriate resulting linking verb (in some cases, more than one correct answer is possible):

a.- Stop drinking beer, you’re going to ...... drunk.
b.- The milk has ...........sour.
c.- For him, it’s like a dream ..... true.
d.- He had always wanted to ...... a pilot.
e.- I’ll marry him as soon as I ..... of age.
f.- The tree leaves ..... brown in autumn.
g.- The window ........shut, waking her.
h.- The English exam ........ easier than I expected.
i.- Poor Laura ........ill while she was on holiday.
j.- Little by little, his eyes ........accustomed to the dark.


a- get; b- gone/turned/become; c- come; d- become; e- come; f- turn; g.- slammed; h.- proved; i.- fell/became/got; j.- grew.

To know more about copular/linking verbs, see my Gramática Inglesa, 9ª ed., Pearson-Longman, pp. 534-537.

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