Spanish expressions: Ponerse a…

ponerse a spanish expressions

In Spanish, when we talk about ponerse a, we say that it is the result of the conjugation of the verb poner. This verb can sometimes be a bit confusing as it has over 40 different meanings and usages. But, when we refer to Ponerse a, we are talking about starting to act. This phrase is highly used by Native Spanish speakers, and we can conjugate it according to its number and gender. Now, if you seek to improve your Spanish speaking and overall skills, you must keep reading. Here, you’ll learn how to use ponerse a, poner, and its differences from the other verbs.


How to use ponerse a


The word ponerse is the result of the conjugation of the verb poner with the reflexive pronoun. The structure Spanish speakers often use when building sentences is below.


Poner/poner(se) + a + infinitive


As we mentioned, we talk about the structure ponerse + a + infinitive, when we refer to the action of starting to do something. We can also use it to get someone or something to do something or to start doing something. Also, we can use it to get on with something.


Let’s see some examples to explain this better.


El niño se puso a llorar porque le quitaron el juguete.

The boy began to cry because the toy was taken from him.


Dentro de un rato me pongo a estudiar.

In a while, I will start studying.


El grupo se pondrá a cantar en 10 minutos.

The group will start singing in 10 minutes.


In the examples above, we suggest starting an activity at a specific or unexpected time.


We can also use ponerse a when we talk about the weather. For example,


De repente se puso a llover. / It suddenly started to rain.


However, there are different structures we can use with ponerse a. Using a noun between “ponerse” and the preposition /a/ is also possible. Let’s see the example below.


Pon la camisa a secar, que ya se terminó de lavar. / Put the shirt to dry, it’s already finished washing.


Therefore, the formula in that case would be verb (poner) + (noun/something) + a + infinitive. the verb is not reflexive but has a DO complement.


How to use the verb poner


The word poner is a transitive verb that has an irregular verb conjugation and is also pronominal. This means that we can conjugate it reflexively, as it is in the case of ponerse. In Spanish, poner is a verb that has many meanings, and we can use it in several different contexts. For that reason, we will now see some of its different ways and uses.


First of all, we can use the verb poner when we want to put someone or something in a place or place. In this situation, we can translate poner into English as “put” or as “to place”. Anyhow, remember that this verb is irregular. So, here are some examples,


Siempre pongo el celular en la mesa. / I always put my cell phone on the table.


Second, we can use it to put someone or something in the right place. This case is very similar to the previous one, with the difference that it is figurative, not literal. For example, when we say


Ponte las pilas que te la van a quitar. / Put on the batteries that are going to take her away from you.


Please note that the expression “ponte las pilas” is pretty colloquial. Many people in Latin America use it and they refer to putting energy, effort, or being aware of something.


Third, we can use it to arrange something for a certain purpose. In other words, you’ll not use poner to put something in place but to use it for a purpose. For example,


Tengo que poner la alarma para llegar a tiempo al trabajo. I have to set the alarm to get to work on time.


We can use poner when we suppose something or make assumptions about something. Also, when we want to express a hypothesis.


Pongamos que fue a la fiesta, pero a mi no me avisó. / Let’s say he went to the party, but he didn’t tell me.


Finally, you can use poner when it implies an obligation. This makes the person feel obligated to do what they are asking. For example,


Yo no quería ir, pero mi mama me lo ordenó y me puso en un compromiso con ellos. / I didn’t want to go, but my mom ordered me to and put me in an agreement with them.


These are just one of the many ways we can use poner. It is just a matter of knowing their irregular forms and their meanings in each sentence.


Poner vs colocar


When we talk about poner and colocar, we are talking about an infinitive verb and an irregular verb. Although we structure poner and colocar in the same way in sentences, they have different meanings. The meaning of these two verbs is similar to the word “put” in English. Below we will show you the differences between poner and colocar.


When we talk about poner, it means leaving something in a certain place. But when we talk about colocar, it means putting something in its place. On the other hand, colocar means the intention of the one who executes or performs an action. While with poner, we refer to the one that manifests the action of the one who works.


Here are some examples,


Se colocó al teléfono ya que su novio la llamaba. / She got on the phone as her boyfriend was calling her.


Le colocaron el nombre de su abuelo materno. / They named him after his maternal grandfather.


Se puso a gritar cuando se enteró de la verdad. / She started screaming when she found out the truth.


Se tenía que poner a trabajar para ganarse la vida. / He had to go to work to earn a living.


Given these points, ponerse is a word to which we can give different uses. In Spain, the word ponerse can mean hiding, filling up, and even when we are full of food. Ponerse is a quite common colloquial term, to which by conjugating it, we can give it different meanings. Still, you must be careful when doing it since they can change the complete meaning of the sentence. Keep in mind that we use an infinitive verb after “ponerse a” in most cases. And, you can even place a noun between ponerse and the preposition /a/ if it’s necessary. Once you get the hang out of it, it’s will be very easy to use and you’ll even have fun.

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