Spanish expressions: “Quedar bien…”, “quedar mal…”

quedar bien spanish expressions 1

“Quedar bien” and “quedar mal” are two Spanish phrases that have a lot in common but they are opposites. One of the things in common is that we can build them just by combining the Spanish verb “quedar” + adverbial.

However, most Spanish learners face a challenge when learning how to use them as, sometimes, using “quedar” can become confusing.

“Quedar” is a flexible Spanish verb and native speakers often use it in typical expressions, daily conversations, and even in formal situations.

If you seek to improve your Spanish proficiency level and want to expand your vocabulary with typical native expressions, you can’t miss reading this article.

Here, we will clear all your doubts about how to use “quedar bien” and “quedar mal”. Also, you’ll learn the basics about using “quedar”.

“Quedar” is a versatile verb

First of all, “quedar” has more than just one translation. Unlike many other Spanish words, “quedar” could be translated to “remain”, stay, and even to be left.

In some situations, we can also use it to talk about appearances or for agreements. With this in mind, it’s not surprising why many Spanish learners struggle to completely understand how to use “quedar”.

As we said, we can combine “quedar” with adverbs or adjectives depending on what we want to express. For that reason, “quedar bien” and “quedar mal” have become very popular phrases among Spanish speakers.

On the other side, conjugating “quedar” is quite simple as it’s a regular verb. Consequently, we don’t have to change its root “qued-“. No matter what Spanish tense we are using. The only thing we will change is its ending.

Below, we have listed quedar’s conjugations in, the present and, past tense because those are the ones we frequently use:

Verb conjugation – Present tense
Infinitive form – Quedar
Yo quedo
Tú quedas
Él/Ella/Usted queda
Nosotros quedamos
Vosotros quedais
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes quedan


Verb conjugation – Indefinite past tense
Infinitive form – Quedar
Yo quedé
Tú quedaste
Él/Ella/Usted quedó
Nosotros quedamos
Vosotros quedasteis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes quedaron

Please note that we don’t show any translation of these conjugations because they will change depending on the sentence structure and what we are trying to express.

How to use “quedar bien”

“Quedar bien” is a positive Spanish phrase that we could use to talk about appearances or point out results. Using “quedar bien” talk about distances is also possible but way less common.

Additionally, we will need to add works like “cerca” = (near) or “lejos” = (far) to give the sentence the right meaning. The structure, in that case, would be (“quedar bien” + “lejos/ cerca”).

Keep in mind that using “quedar bien” to talk about distances because “bien” will play the role of intensifier. As a result, we can emphasize how far or near something is.

Let’s see some examples of how to use “quedar bien”:

La casa de Carla queda bien lejos de nuestra casa. Está a 20Km de distancia.

Carla’s house is quite far from our house. It is 20 km away.

Te queda muy bien ese pantalón. Se acomoda a tu silueta

Those pants look great on you. Fits your silhouette

A tu mamá le quedó muy bien la pasta. No solo me gusta su apariencia, sino también su sabor.

Your mom’s pasta turned out very well. I not only like the way it looks, but also the way it tastes.

As you may see we can even add the Spanish word “muy” as an intensifier. When we want to say something about how someone cooks, using “quedar bien” is a great alternative.

It can help us give a compliment and talk about other aspects like, for example, the flavor. Don’t forget that even though food’s appearance is important, flavor plays a fundamental role.

If you paid attention, we often use “quedar bien” together with DO and IO pronouns. Therefore, building negative sentences with “quedar bien” can be difficult for many students.

The negative form of “quedar bien” usually expresses the same as “quedar mal”. Yet, sometimes it might mean that it wasn’t good but neither bad.

Let’s see great examples below:

No me queda muy bien la camisa. Está un poco chica.

The shirt doesn’t fit me very well. It’s a bit small.

No me gustó para nada la comida. No quedó bien cocinada.

I didn’t like the food at all. It wasn’t cooked well.

As you may see, in the first example we use “no me queda muy bien” to express that the shirt doesn’t fit that well but either that bad. So, it may be possible to fix the issue. On the flip side, in the second example, there’s no doubt that the food wasn’t good.

How to use “quedar mal”

Using “quedar mal” is as easy as using “quedar bien”. We can also use “quedar mal” to talk about appearances or point out results. Nevertheless, it isn’t possible to use “quedar mal” to talk about distances.

“Quedar mal” is the opposite of “quedar bien” and, as a result, it’s a negative expression.

In most cases, we also use “quedar mal” together with DO and IO pronouns. Sometimes, we can even use it to talk about how we, or someone, perform.

Here’s an example:

Le quedé mal a mis empleados acerca del pago.

I made a bad impression on my employees about pay.

In this context, “quedar mal” will mean that we didn’t meet the goal or requirements. Building negative sentences with “quedar mal” isn’t complicated as it’s similar to how we do with “quedar bien”. We have to add the word “no” to the sentence.

We, generally, place “no” before the DO/IO pronoun or the verb conjugate in case the subject is implicit.

Please, be aware that the negative form of “quedar mal” has a similar meaning to “quedar bien”. In a few situations, it might mean “not that bad” if we add the intensifier “muy”.

Let’s have a look at some examples of how to use “quedar mal” below:

No creerás que te voy a quedar mal, ¿o sí?

You don’t think I’m going to look bad on you, do you?

Hay que ser honestos, ese color de cabello no te queda mal.

You have to be honest, that hair color doesn’t look bad on you.

Mi carro quedó muy mal pintado. Tiene varias imperfecciones en la superficie.

My car was very poorly painted. It has several imperfections on the surface.

A pesar de no tener mucho conocimiento acerca del tema, el resultado no quedó muy mal.

Despite not having much knowledge about the topic, the result was not too bad.

Spanish important expressions

In conclusion, “quedar bien” and “quedar mal” are two Spanish phrases that we could use to talk about appearances, results, or features like food’s flavor.

We can use “quedar bien” to talk about distance but, with “quedar mal”, isn’t the same story.

Remember to use DO/IO pronouns when necessary. It will help you avoid making mistakes.

As you may see, there’s no doubt that “quedar” is a versatile Spanish verb. So, you must be aware when using it.

With all of this being said, we hope “le quedes muy bien” to all your friends when speaking Spanish next time.

¡Hasta luego!

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