An extended Butterworth–Van Dyke (EBVD) model to characterize a thickness-shear mode quartz crystal resonator in a semi-infinite viscoelastic medium is derived by means of analysis of the lumped elements model described by Cernosek et al. [R. W. Cernosek, S. J. Martin, A. R. Hillman, and H. L. Bandey, IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control 45, 1399 (1998)]. The EBVD model parameters are related to the viscoelastic properties of the medium. A capacitance added to the motional branch of the EBVD model has to be included when the elastic properties of the fluid are considered. From this model, an explicit expression for the frequency shift of a quartz crystal sensor in viscoelastic media is obtained. By combining the expressions for shifts in the motional series resonant frequency and in the motional resistance, a simple equation that relates only one unknown (the loss factor of the fluid) to those measurable quantities, and two simple explicit expressions for determining the viscoelastic properties of semi-infinite fluid media have been derived. The proposed expression for the parameter Δf/ΔR is compared with the corresponding ratio obtained with data computed from the complete admittance model. Relative errors below 4.5%, 3%, and 1.2% (for the ratios of the load surface mechanical impedance to the quartz shear characteristic impedance of 0.3, 0.25, and 0.1, respectively), are obtained in the range of the cases analyzed. Experimental data from the literature are used to validate the model. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.