If you want to learn conversational Spanish and become fluent, “poner” is one verb that you will really want to get to grips with and learn its multiple uses well.
In this blog post we will look at the most common 10 uses of the verb poner:
1. to put
2. to set up
3. to give
4. to add
5. to put on (clothing)
6. to become/get + adjective
7. to set yourself to do something (ponerse a + verb)
8. to set up/open a business
9. to move/stand somewhere
10. to send
Firstly it is worth looking at how the verb is formed in the present, past and future tenses.
pongo – I put
pones – you put (1 person)
pone – he/she puts
ponemos – we put
ponéis – you all put
ponen – they put
puse – I put
pusiste – you put (1 person)
puso – he/she put
pusimos – we put
pusisteis – you all put
pusieron – they put
pondré – I will put
pondrás – you will put (1 person)
pondrá – he/she will put
pondremos – we will put
pondréis – you all will put
pondrán – they will put
When you first learn what poner means, you will learn to translate it as “to put”. In this way it is simply used to talk about where something is placed. Let’s look at some examples:
– Pongo las llaves en mi bolso.
I put the keys in my bag.
– El camarero puso los platos en la mesa.
The waiter put the dishes on the table.
– ¿Dónde vas a poner el cuadro?
Where are you going to put the picture?
You can also use “poner” to say you are setting the table for dinner.
– Voy a poner la mesa para cenar.
I am going to set the table for dinner.
Often in bars and shops in Spain you hear people asking for food or drinks with the verb “poner”:
– ¿Me pones una cerveza?
Can you give me a beer?
– Ponme una ración de calamares.
Give me a portion of squid.
You can use poner to talk about adding things to food:
– Tienes que poner un poco de sal.
You have to add a bit of salt.
– No debes poner más azúcar.
You shouldn’t add any more sugar.
When talking about putting on clothing or getting dressed, you would need to make poner reflexive, by adding “se” or the equivalent reflexive pronoun:
– No voy a ponerme una chaqueta porque hace calor hoy.
I am not going to put on a jacket because it’s hot today.
– Ponte un abrigo porque hace frío.
Put a coat on because it’s cold.
When talking about moods and feelings you often need to use poner:
– Me puse enojado cuando me dijo una mentira.
I got angry when he/she told me a lie.
– Me pongo triste cuando veo esa película.
I get sad when I watch that film.
When you start out to do something or apply yourself, you would use poner:
– Me pongo a estudiar cada mañana a las siete.
I start to study every morning at seven.
– Se puso a encontrar otro trabajo y lo consiguió.
He started looking for another job and he achieved it.
When you want to talk about setting up a business you would need to use the verb poner:
– Van a poner un restaurante chino en la plaza mayor.
They are going to open a Chinese restaurant in the main square.
To talk about someone positioning them somewhere, you would use poner reflexively:
– Ponte aquí.
– Te puse una carta ayer pero no sé cuando la recibirás.
I sent you a letter yesterday but I don’t know when you will receive it.