Meter vs Poner in Spanish: What’s the Difference?
Meter vs poner is one combination that gives beginner Spanish learners lots of headaches! Not only do both translate into “put,” but they are also kind of catch-all words with tens of uses.
Will you believe me if I tell you that it’s not that difficult to understand the difference between these two words? You should!
Just keep reading, and I will explain when and how to use these two words. You’ll learn their meaning, conjugation, and some common expressions
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Meter vs Poner – The Basics
If you have a look at meter vs poner in Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy), you may get scared to see many different entries—44 for poner and 29 for meter.
This is because, much like “to put” in English, they are both all-purpose words that can be used in different contexts.
However, if you understand the basic logic behind them, you’ll be able to use them intuitively.
Although both mean “to put,” you cannot use them interchangeably. Meter means to put something inside an enclosed space, and poner means to put something on the surface of another object.
You’ll translate poner with “put on” and meter with “put in” or “bring in.”
Pon tus cosas en la mesa y vete a jugar.
Put your things on the table and go play.
Mete las compras en el refri y vamos afuera.
Put the grocery in the fridge, and let’s go outside.
Now that you know the basic differences, let’s look at both of these verbs separately.
8 Meanings of the Spanish Verb ‘Meter’
Let’s see now how and when you can start distinguishing between meter vs poner. The verb meter generally transmits the movement inside a thing or place, but it can also have some other shades of meaning.
1. To Put Inside
This is the principal meaning of this word, indicating a physical movement—to put one thing inside another. In this meaning, meter is a synonym for introducir.
Mete el pastel en el horno.
Put the cake inside the oven.
2. To Deposit
Meter can also mean to deposit money in a bank account.
Necesito meter el dinero en tu cuenta para que compremos los boletos de avión.
I need to deposit money in your account to buy the plane tickets.
3. To Take In/Up
If your pants are too long or the skirt too loose, and you need to hem them (take them up or in), you can use meter to describe the process.
Tendré que meter el pantalón porque me queda largo.
I’ll have to hem the pants because they’re too long.
Deberías meter un poco la cintura de esta falda; te va a quedar mejor.
You should take in the waistband of this skirt a little; it will fit you better.
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4. To Score
In some sports, meter means to put the ball into the opponent’s goal.
México le metió cinco goles a Argentina.
Mexico scored five touchdowns against Argentina.
Los Cowboys les metieron cinco touchdowns a los Gigantes.
The Cowboys scored five touchdowns against the Giants.
5. To Smuggle
Meter also means to introduce something illegally to a country.
Muchos grupos criminales están metiendo sustancias ilegales en el país.
Many criminal groups are bringing illegal substances into the country.
6. To Get A Job For Someone
Meter is also used to describe a practice of nepotism, when you get a job for someone else not because of their merits but because they’re related to you.
Metió a su esposa y cinco hijos en la empresa.
He brought his wife and five children into the company.
7. To Palm Off
Meter also means to give or sell someone something that is of very poor quality.
Me metieron un coche con caja de cambios en sus últimas.
They palmed off a car on me with a gearbox on its last leg.
8. To Cause
You can also use meter to mean to cause, to be a reason for something.
Esos chicos meten mucho ruido.
These boys make a lot of fuss.
2 Common Spanish Expressions with Meter
Apart from regular meanings, there are also a couple of useful expressions you may throw into a conversation.
No me meto en nada
You can use this expression to indicate that you want to stay neutral in a conflict or dispute.
Yo no me meto en nada; no quiero problemas.
I don’t get involved in anything; I don’t want any trouble.
Meterse alguien donde no lo llaman
This expression means to meddle, to poke your nose into other people’s business.
No te metas donde no te llaman.
Don’t meddle where you’re not wanted.
Conjugation of Meter
Let’s see how the verb meter conjugates in present, past, and future tenses. It’s a regular -er verb that’s easy to learn.
Present Tense Conjugation Chart: Meter
Meter is regular in the present tense.
|yo meto||I put|
|tú metes||you put|
|él, ella, usted mete||he, she, it puts (formal you put)|
|nosotros metemos||we put|
|ustedes meten||you put|
|ellos, ellas meten||they put|
Mete el helado en el congelador.
Put the ice cream in the freezer.
No deberías meterte en sus conversaciones.
You shouldn’t meddle in their conversations.
Preterite Tense Conjugation Chart: Meter
The verb meter is also regular in all forms of the Spanish preterite tense.
|yo metí||I put|
|tú metiste||you put|
|él, ella, usted metió||he, she, it put (formal you put)|
|nosotros metimos||we put|
|ustedes metieron||you put|
|ellos, ellas metieron||they put|
Te metiste donde no debías.
You got in where you shouldn’t have.
Les metieron cinco goles antes del medio tiempo.
They received five goals before halftime.
Future Tense Conjugation Chart: Meter
You’ll be happy to hear that meter is also regular in all forms of the Spanish future simple tense.
|yo meteré||I will put|
|tú meterás||you will put|
|él, ella, meterá||he, she, it will put (formal you will put)|
|nosotros meteremos||we will put|
|ustedes meterán||you will put|
|ellos, ellas meterán||they will put|
¿Meterás a tu hijo en este colegio?
Will you put your child in this school?
13 Meanings of the Spanish Verb ‘Poner’
Let’s see all different meanings of poner with example sentences.
1. To Put, To Place
The verb poner generally expresses the action of placing something onto a surface.
Pon los platos en la mesa.
Put the plates on the table.
2. To Make
Poner also means to make a person be in a certain state.
Esta canción me pone melancólica.
This song makes me melancholy.
Solo la pones en peligro.
You just put her in danger.
3. To Add
If you’re cooking, use poner to say “to add an ingredient.”
Tienes que poner más sal.
You have to add more salt.
Pon los cinco huevos en la masa.
Add five eggs to the dough.
4. To Contribute
You can also use poner to mean “to add” in a less literal meaning.
No estás poniendo toda tu energía en el proyecto.
You’re not putting all your energy into the project.
Puso todo su empeño para que el trabajo saliera.
He put all your efforts into getting the job done.
5. To Turn On an Object
Poner means to turn something on.
Pon la tele; ya es la hora de las noticias.
Turn on the TV; it’s already time for the news.
6. To Set Up, Establish
Poner can also mean to open a business.
Mis abuelos pusieron la tienda hace 50 años.
My grandparents opened the shop 50 years ago.
7. To Admit A Hypothesis
You can also use poner to mean to suppose something.
Pongamos que tienes razón, ¿y ahora qué?
Let’s say you’re right, so now what?
8. To Write
Poner can also simply mean to write something down.
Pon tu nombre aquí y tu firma allá.
Put your name here and your signature there.
9. To Show or put on
Poner can also mean “to show” on stage or in a cinema.
Este viernes ponen “Don Quijote” en el teatro municipal.
This Friday they’ll play “Don Quixote” at the municipal theater.
¿Qué película ponen ahora en el cine?
Which movie is playing now at the cinema?
10. To Call (a Name)
Poner also means to give a name.
Sus papás le pusieron Pedro, como su abuelo.
His parents named him Pedro, after his grandfather.
Sus amigos le pusieron “chicharito.”
His friends called him “little green pea.”
11. To Put In (Pay)
Use poner to mean to give a certain amount of money.
Si tú pones cinco y yo pongo cinco, nos podremos comprar un helado.
If you put in five and I put in five, we can buy an ice cream.
12. To Put Through (The Phone)
Poner also means to put through on the phone.
¿Me puede poner con el departamento de reclamaciones?
Can you put me through to the claims department?
13. To Lay (Eggs)
Finally, poner means to lay eggs.
Estas gallinas ponen dos huevos al día.
These hens lay two eggs a day.
6 Common Expressions with Poner
Let’s have a look at some idiomatic expressions with poner.
Poner la mesa
To set the table.
Pon la mesa y ahora comemos.
Set the table and we’ll eat in a moment.
Ponerse de acuerdo
To agree on something.
Nunca podemos ponernos de acuerdo.
We can never agree.
Poner en marcha
To set in motion or to put into action.
Hay que poner en marcha esta idea.
We have to put this idea into action.
Poner una inyección
To give an injection.
No me gusta cuando me ponen inyecciones.
I don’t like when they give me injections.
Ponerse de pie
To stand up.
Cuando entre la reina, la gente se pone de pie.
When the Queen enters, people stand up.
Ponerse en forma
To get in shape or in good health.
Tienes que ponerte en forma si quieres correr el maratón.
You have to get in shape if you want to run the marathon.
Conjugation of Poner
Let’s see how the verb poner conjugates in present, past, and future tenses. It’s an -er verb, with some irregularities.
Present Tense Conjugation Chart: Poner
Poner is irregular in the first form of the present tense.
|yo pongo||I put|
|tú pones||you put|
|él, ella, usted pone||he, she, it puts (formal you put)|
|nosotros ponemos||we put|
|ustedes ponen||you put|
|ellos, ellas ponen||they put|
Siempre lo ponemos así. No lo cambies.
We always put it like this. Don’t change it.
¿Ya pongo la mesa?
Shall I set the table now?
Preterite Tense Conjugation Chart: Poner
The verb meter is irregular in all forms of the Spanish preterite tense.
|yo puse||I put|
|tú pusiste||you put|
|él, ella, usted puso||he, she, it put (formal you put)|
|nosotros pusimos||we put|
|ustedes pusieron||you put|
|ellos, ellas pusieron||they put|
Ayer me pusieron una multa por estacionarme mal.
Yesterday I got a ticket for parking wrong.
¿Pusiste sal a la sopa? No sabe a nada.
Did you put salt in the soup? It tastes like nothing.
Future Tense Conjugation Chart: Poner
Poner is also irregular in all forms of the Spanish future simple tense.
|yo pondré||I will put|
|tú pondrás||you will put|
|él, ella, pondrá||he, she, it will put (formal you will put)|
|nosotros pondremos||we will put|
|ustedes pondrán||you will put|
|ellos, ellas pondrán||they will put|
¿Sabes cuándo pondrán la peli nueva en el cine?
Do you know when the new movie will be in theaters?
Keep Practicing Meter vs Poner
Did you get it all right? I’m sure you’re motivated right now to keep learning, and meter vs poner no longer are troublesome to you.
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