Posted by: janecronin | November 5, 2017


“Poner” is another verb which has a rather wide range of meanings.  The basic translation of “to put” is similar to “to place”.  “Pone el libro en la mesa” (she puts the book on the table).   In a similar way, it also translates the verb “to lay”, as in “poner la mesa” (to lay the table) and “poner huevos” (to lay eggs).

At an elementary level, perhaps our first exposure to this verb is when we are buying food or ordering something in a bar.  We can use “quiero” (I want) “dame” (give me – informal) or “deme” (give me – formal) but also “ponme” which is hard to translate but is something like “serve me” or more literally “put (in front of) me”.  The more formal version of “ponme” is “póngame”.  “Ponme un kilo de manzanas” or more formally if you prefer: “póngame un kilo de manzanas”.

These two forms “pon” and “ponga” are imperatives, that is commands, “ponga” being based on the first person singular of “poner” which is “pongo” (I put).  “Poner” has a number of other irregular forms: the past participle is “puesto” (e.g. I have put – “he puesto”).  We also use this word to talk about clothing that is being worn, for example “la modelo lleva puesto un vestido verde” (the model is wearing a green dress).

The past simple or preterite tense of “poner” is also very irregular.  Here it is:  puse, pusiste, puso, pusimos, pusisteis, pusieron”.   “Mi gallina puso seis huevos esta mañana” (My hen laid six eggs this morning).  I haven´t got a hen, it was just an example.

The verb “poner” is frequently found in the reflexive form “ponerse”.  The most basic use of this is when talking about “putting on” clothing.  “Por la mañana me pongo los zapatos” (I put my shoes on in the morning).  “¿Qué te vas poner esta noche?” (What are you going to put on tonight?).  Hence the connection with the previous phrase “llevar puesto”, it means, literally (to wear put on).  I’m just hoping all this wearing and putting on is making sense.

Finally, “ponerse” can be used when we are describing certain emotional reactions.  “Mi padre se puso furioso cuando llegué tarde a casa”  (My father was furious when I arrived home late).  “A veces me pongo triste cuando veo las noticias” (Sometimes I get sad when I watch the news).  Although these kinds of sentences are often about negative reactions, we can also say: “Sus amigos se pusieron muy alegres cuando les dijo que se iba a casar”.  (His friends became very happy when he told them he was going to get married).  “Poner” and “ponerse” can also mean to turn on, or be turned on in the sexual sense.  “Eso me pone” (that turns me on).   I just thought I’d throw that one in, not that I want to scare you from using it in every day conversation!

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