Spanish in 12 verbs: Conseguir, ponerse, volver a
Conseguir means ‘to get’ or ‘to obtain’. For example, ‘¿Ya has conseguido el nuevo horario?’(have you got your new timetable yet?).
It also means, however, to succeed or to manage to do something. For example:
‘Conseguimos terminar el proyecto’ – we managed to finish the project.
‘A pesar de la lluvia logré salir a correr’ – despite the rain, I managed to go out to run.
‘Lo conseguí!’ – I did it!
We have to give a special mention to ‘volver a’ which is used far more than ‘otra vez’ or ‘de nuevo’ in Spanish. Think of how many times you use the word ‘back’ in English (‘come back’,’ go back’, ‘go back up’,’ go back down’) this would be ‘volver a’ in Spanish. For example:
‘Ha vuelto a bajar en ascensor’ – He has gone back down in the lift.
‘Volveré a comprar más manaña’ – I will come back and buy more tomorrow.
‘Vuelve a llamarle, la comida ya está lista’ – Call him again, the food is already ready.
If the action is about a ‘thing’ (put it back, give it back, take it back) then the verb is ‘devolver.’ For example:
‘Devuélveme el lápiz’ – give me back the pencil.
Another meaning of ‘devolver’ is ‘to throw up’. ‘No se sentía bien y ha devuelto la comida’ – He wasn’t feeling well and thrown up the food.
To turn around:
‘Vuelve la cabeza hacia mí’ – Turn your hear towards me.
‘Vuélvete’ – Turn around.
‘Volver’ can be used in the phrase ‘volver loco’, and this phrase has three possible meanings:
To confuse: ‘Todo esto me está volviendo loco, no entiendo nada’ – All this is confusing me, I don’t understand anything.
To feel attracted to somebody’: ‘Maria me vuelve loco’ – It literally means ‘Maria is turning me crazy’.
To lost your mind: ‘Se volvió loco cuando era joven’ – He lost his mind when he was young.
It’s important to add that, while ‘volverse loco’ in a ‘lost their mind’ meaning is widely understood, it’s also quite a callous way to refer to that kind of situation, and it’s better to use ‘perder el juicio’, which has the same meaning.
Ponerse means ‘to put’, however, it also has many other meanings. These include:
- pie – stand up.
- rodillas – kneel down.
- frente – turn yourself to the front.
- perfil – turn yourself to the side.
- espaldas – turn yourself to the back.
A change in mood or well being
In English this would most commonly be expressed with ‘get.’ For example,
‘No quiero ponerme enferma’ – I don’t want to get sick.
‘Ella ha puesto a su hermano verde de envidia – she has got her brother green with envy.
‘Me pongo gordo cuando como chocolate y luego tengo que ponerme en forma’ – I get fat when I eat chocolate and then I have to get fit.
It also expresses a change in colour. In English this would be ‘to turn.’ For example:
‘Cruzamos la calle cuando los semáforos se ponen en rojo’ – we cross the street when the traffic lights turn red.
‘Me pongo verde cuando vuelo en avión’ – I turn green (get sick) when I fly I a plane.’
Finally, ponerse is also another word for ‘to start’. It is particularly used for machines or if something starts suddenly and unexpectedly such as rain.
‘Ponerse en marcha’ – to start a machine.
‘Me puse a limpiar la casa’ – I started to clean the house.
‘Me puse a reir’ – I started to laugh.
‘Ponerse a limpiar’ – to start to clean.
Ponerse de mi parte – To be on my side [of things]
‘Todos estaban de mi parte en la discusión’ – Everyone was on my side in that argument.
‘Poner huevos’ – Lay eggs. ‘Todos los pájaros ponen huevos’ – All birds lay eggs
It’s important to add that, in European Spanish specially, to ‘poner un huevo’ can be used as ‘you don’t say’ when not applied to birds. It’s a little rude, so be careful! For example:
‘Dice que está lloviendo ¡A ver si ha puesto un huevo!’ – She says it’s raining. You don’t say! (maybe she just laid an egg!)
‘Poner al dia’ – to catch up on work.
‘Después de los vacacciones tengo que poner al dia con el trabajo esta semana’ – After the holidays, I have to catch up with work this week.
‘Poner deberes’ – To give homework.
‘Cuántos deberes te han puesto?’ – How much homework have they given you?
‘Poner algo’ – To give something in a restaurant or café.
‘Ponme un café y una tostada con tomate’ – Give me a coffee and toast with tomato.
‘Poner en duda’ – To doubt
‘Pongo en duda que estuviera ayer en casa’ – I doubt he was at home yesterday
‘Ponerse el sol’ – Sunset
This use (‘ponerse’ + name) is applicable to any kind of astral object that disappears in the horizon (the sun, the moon, a planet, a star).
‘Poner colorado’ / ‘poner rojo’ – To blush
‘Cada vez que me habla me pongo roja’ – Everytime he talks to me I blush
‘Me ponen colorado con sus halagos’ – They make me blush with their cajolery.